J’s Birth Story

EToday my baby turns five. FIVE! We celebrated over the weekend with a family dinner out at a favorite pizza place.  Loads of toys and goodies have been lavished on him and cake has been consumed.

Jude loves it when we lay in bed at night and I tell him stories. In particular, we’ve been doing the story of when he was born, so I thought I’d share it here as well.  And while it’s not the story you want to hear when you’re pregnant – and definitely not the way I expected it all to happen –  it is our story.

Simon & Rachel (& Jude in-utero)

Originally due in mid-December, Jude came into the world seven weeks early on October 29, 2007. Pregnancy hadn’t exactly been the most fun for me – to say that I was hormonal was probably putting it lightly. But then once I hit around 30 weeks of pregnancy,  I started feeling kinda off. I chalked it up to 3rd trimester woes. But then the weekend of my baby shower, I was distinctly miserable. I couldn’t sleep, I was having pain in my chest that, crazy as it sounds, I thought was heartburn. After a night of vomiting, we went to the hospital. After several rounds of tests and an ultrasound, it was determined that I had preeclampsia and I needed to deliver ASAP.

I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. Laying there in that hospital bed with my sweet OB saying, “Well. You’re going to have a baby today.”  Honest to goodness, the first thing that came to mind was, “But we have no diapers. We don’t have anything for the baby.”

Which technically was true. None of our furniture had arrived; all we had was a bassinet and some of the things received at our baby shower only two days prior. To compound matters, the hospital we were at was not equipped with a NICU. So an ambulance was called and 2 fresh-faced EMTs (one of whom went to high school with us!) came to transport me across town to the hospital that could accommodate us.

I don’t think we were at the (new) hospital for an hour before they rolled me into surgery for my C-section. And at 5:35pm, they held up a teeny tiny baby over that curtain in the OR and I heard his precious sweet cry. I got to glimpse him briefly before they whisked him off to the NICU. Tiny at 3 pounds 13 ounces, he had red hair and we couldn’t believe it. He was finally here.

Everything happened so quickly. Our families were there but we didn’t have cameras, I didn’t have a hospital bag packed. It was all so sudden, so crazy. And the craziness didn’t go away quickly either. I had to be treated for the preeclampsia which let me feeling like death warmed over and subsequently I didn’t get to go to the NICU to see Jude for a few days. Simon made regular reports to me and I had tons of photos to look at.

Baby Bean

Finally, they rolled me into the NICU for my first look at him. I was so nervous – I mean, I was meeting my child for practically the first time!  And then there he was – tiny and precious with that red hair. My heart flopped over in my chest and I remember telling Simon, “Isn’t he marvelous? We should have 10 more just like him!”  (Jude loves this part when I tell it to him – he giggles at the thought of 10 more of him).

Mom & Jude

Sleeping Baby

Daddy Simon & Jude

Jude was there in the NICU for three weeks. He had to gain weight, take a bottle, and maintain his own temperature — all crucial things for a NICU baby. But they finally allowed us to bring him home. I’ll never forget pulling in the driveway and seeing Simon’s mom and sister, my sister and her 3 boys, and my mom all there to greet us. It was a homecoming! We were all 3 together under one roof, like we were supposed to be.

But we were total nervous wrecks! You should have seen us, tiptoeing around this teeny tiny baby, keeping the lights dimmed and the TV down low. We were scared to death! We were also kind of under house arrest because it was the beginning of RSV season, which can be deadly especially for preemies. So we holed up until after Thanksgiving when we decided to go stay at my parents’ house — we needed support, big time.

All in all, it was a rough entry into parenthood, yes – but wow, what a boy we got. What a total, utter miracle that sweet boy is to me every single day of his life. And you know what? I would do it all over again – every last bit of it because he was worth it.

Baby boy, I know you’re five, but you will always be my baby. And you are God’s biggest gift to your daddy and me. You are marvelous, in every single way.

Ok. Time for some Kleenex for this mamma. And some more cake.  Happy birthday, my little redheaded love.

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  • Susan S.

    Oh, Rachel, this is a beautiful post! My little baby girl will turn five in December (a couple of days after Christmas). Reading your story took me back to 2007 also, and my unexpected delivery at eight weeks premature. I can totally relate to the feelings of finally being at home under one roof after several weeks in the NICU, and being paranoid. Your little man is so handsome and precious! Birthday greetings from Arkansas!

    • RachelShingleton

      Yes, the paranoia! Oh my goodness, the paranoia. It was so so hard. Happy (early) Birthday to your precious preemie girl too! xoxo

  • Kathy Caplinger

    I can totally relate too! I didn’t get to meet Caleb until the next day and it felt like an eternity! My sister made them drug me before the nurse told me i wouldnt meet/hold him that day. Then like you said it was VERY strange to actually meet him in person. I remember seeing him and saying, Hi I’m your mommy. It was like i was holding another persons baby. For the first few months I mourned the loss of time with him and would randomly cry about it. But then I would remember my precious boy was here and healthy! Happy Bday Jude!

    • RachelShingleton

      I remember having major anxiety before they rolled me in to see him. I think the doctor made me take something to calm down! I too mourned that loss of time, and I think to some extent, mourned the entire experience as not being “what it should be” — whatever that is. Time has healed that, to be sure, but it was definitely a rocky beginning.

  • Chiara

    Buon compleanno dall’Italia, Jude! Happy birthday from Italy! 🙂 Chiara

    • RachelShingleton

      Ahh! So kind of you! Grazie mille!

  • Such a special story!! Can’t believe he is 5! And to think, he was the same size as us, but then we are twins! He is a little miracle…

    • RachelShingleton

      Oh goodness! Were you guys preemies too? I know it’s pretty common with twins.

      • Yes, I think 6-7 weeks early…. but I can’t imagine having just 1 baby that small. What a little blessing he is! 😉

  • pippinpearl

    I love this story. Such a sweet little one. ::hug::

  • Linda Brizuela

    I wanted to let you know a lady in south Florida on FB has been using your sons photo saying that he was hers.