I have not found the time to sit down and write about this birth.

Mae Bénédicte Shropshire was born on December 21st at 1:44 in the morning, weighing in at 8 lbs  1oz 21 inches long

Getting ready for this labor and preparing my mind was not the same as my other births.  With Ava, we took husband coached Bradley method classes and became well informed about the whole process as they say information is power, and it was!  For Penny, I just hoped that my labor would be different and easer than Ava’s… and it was!

For Mae, before “labor” day came I feel that there was much spiritual battle in the mix.  After loosing so many babies, I think somehow I thought that something must go wrong!  I felt like if she was going to live then that must have meant that I was going to die in child birth.  After experiencing so much loss, I don’t think I really felt like God was really going to give me the chance to mother another child.  There was a lot of fear there and denial that everything was going to be okay.  I definitely fought against that, and went to the Word quite a bit, asking God to take away this fear from me, and yet I still found myself consumed by it.

The Night of Monday the 18th of December, I began having consistent and strong contractions all through the night, and when I woke up in the morning I told TJ that I was pretty sure I would be having the baby that day, and then everything sort of faded off which was weird to me, because in the past I had never had case labors like that.  That Tuesday I spent they day preparing for after labor, because even though everything faded, I figured I would be having baby soon.  That Tuesday night/Wednesday morning at 2 am I rolled over in bed and my water broke.  I called the midwife (who was actually the backup midwife… mine was in England)  to find out what I should do… she said to sleep, so I slept the rest of the night waking up every 15 min to contractions.  When I got up in the morning, my contractions faded again like the day before, but the clock had already started… my water had already broken, I needed to get this party started.  Staying at home felt like it was going to stall this labor all day, so before lunch we dropped the girls off with some close friends, and headed to Orlando.  We met my sister in law Cherie at a vietnamese restaurant so that I could eat some especially spicy food.  Cherie would be assisting me in my birth, of which she was VERY excited because I generally don’t like other people there.  We eventually made it to the birth Center and were able to see the midwife at about 4:30.  I appreciated how gentile and kind she was with me.  She found that my cervix was caught up behind the baby’s head… I don’t know exactly what that means, but it was preventing labor from really getting going.  She attempted to slowly pull the cervix forward where it needed to be, and even attempted to break my water the rest of the way.  She suggested breast pumping to get my contractions going. So I breast pumped for a couple hours switching sides every 10 minutes, which really got the contractions going.  All were surprised by the amount of milk I had coming out already.  I felt like I was stealing milk from my baby who would hopefully be coming out soon.  As the contractions were much stronger I didn’t need to pump anymore because the contractions were  coming more frequent and strong.  I walked the main hall by our room.  TJ and Cherie walked with me faithfully.  Cherie was the faithful water girl and was the designated stress relieving instructor.  TJ’s job was pretty much to be by my side at every moment that I was having a contraction, if he even went 5 feet away from me I felt that he was a mile away.  The crazy part about all this, is that for several years when I would dream of being pregnant and having babies, and would instead lose them I would actually fantasize about labor and working through difficult contractions.  There is something beautiful about working hard towards something that you love, and yet you have never even laid your eyes on.  In the moment I was thinking, how could I have every fantasized about this?!

When the midwife checked me again, we found that the cervix was not cooperating and the baby’s head was not as far down as it needed to be.  It was time to get serious, I got into different positions for specific amounts of time to move the baby’s head down.  It was very painful, but successful, and as Cherie would say “it hurts so good!”  I went from the bed to the toilet to some weird positions on the floor… sure enough, baby’s head was moving down.  When the time came for me to begin pushing, I was so ready to have the baby and and to see her precious face, but at the same time I did not want to go through pushing a baby out.  Her head was still in a bit of a weird position, and so pushing her head out was not a one and done push, it took much struggle, strength and going within myself to find some sort of strength to get her out… it was unlike Ava or Penny!  When the head came out, I began feeling her move her head which was weird, and at this point there were some scary things that happened that I was completely unaware of.  I was unaware that the cord was around the baby’s neck, so the midwife began acting quickly literally trying to pull the baby out.  She had me go from the birthing stool to the floor, I gave another couple good pushes and her body came out.  Apparently there was some sort of snap when the midwife was trying to get her out, which scared Cherie and TJ… they wondered if she had a broken bone, but after checking her all out, it was probably just the cord. When baby came out, she put her on my chest, but she wasn’t breathing.  She had a strong heart beat, and as the midwife was putting the mouth piece on Mae trying to get her to breath, she just kept repeating “she has a really strong heart beat” “She has a really strong heart beat!”, which made me feel very calm, I was confident that she would begin breathing very soon, and I think God gave me that peace.  TJ and Cherie however were experiencing some pretty fearful moments.  After a bit of help from the midwife, baby began crying, and so did TJ and Cherie.  I couldn’t believe this was my baby, she was here and okay, and so was I.

And there began a journey with our 4th daughter that I can only thank God for.  We found when Mae was born that she couldn’t nurse very well because she was tongue tied.  So, literally hours after after Mae was born we went to an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Dr. to have her tongue clipped.  The office staff were so excited because Mae was their youngest patient ever, I suppose she should have received an award ;)!   When the dr. was looking in her mouth, he noticed that she was also lip tied and would need to take care of that also.  He then said “did you know your daughter has a cleft palate?”  I said “NO!”  He showed us her mouth and sure enough, her palate in the back of her mouth was missing.  My head instantly began spinning, not knowing what this meant or what we were gonna do about it, and TJ right away began doing a search on his phone trying to find out what this meant. He had told me that directly after clipping her tongue and lip she needed to nurse, so right after he handed her to me I tried to nurse her and she would not latch.  The nurse kept coming back in asking me if she could nurse yet, and I kept telling them no she couldn’t nurse.  I thought, maybe when we get home I would try again.  When we came home, Mae was just so tired she kept sleeping, and I kept trying to nurse her, but she couldn’t do it, and then by 8 or 9 she just wouldn’t wake up to nurse.  I was exhausted and didn’t know why Mae wouldn’t eat, or try harder.  I thought maybe this is difficult because of the cleft palate, but I didn’t know the extent of it.  Cherie and been telling me that I had to get some milk in her and that if I wasn’t abe to nurse her by 9 pm I was gonna need to give her a bottle, and I didn’t really know what that meant because I didn’t want to give her formula, and I was just beyond myself exhausted after literally not sleeping since the night before I had my baby.  Cherie called TJ and explained how very important it was that I get milk into that baby, because if I didn’t she would become listless and wouldn’t eat at all after a certain point, and it would become very dangerous, so TJ got on the same page as me, and I began hand expressing milk into her mouth.  She began waking up and wanting more, which was encouraging.  Even though we were so tired, we set alarms to get up every 2 hours throughout the night to feed Mae some milk. Someone had given us a used hand pump, so TJ washed that, and when I tried to use it, it didn’t work!  So at 3 in the morning TJ went to Walmart to buy a better hand pump, he came back, I pumped and we started feeding Mae with a dropper, trying to get as much milk in her that we could.  We fed her for the entire next day and night like that, and then next Saturday through Cherie we got connected to an amazing lactation consultant.  I was so grateful for this woman’s help!  She saw us for free at Cape Canaveral hospital, and she was able to get her hands on one of the Dr. Brown Specialty bottles for Mae, as she couldn’t suck like a normal baby.  It was there that it was confirmed that I would definitely not be able to nurse Mae.  That night I cried for several hours, because my dream of nursing another baby would not be coming to pass.  Yes she would be able to eat my breast milk, but I would not get those special moments of nursing my baby every few hours.  There are positives to bottle feeding a baby… I know!  But in these moments, I really just needed to grieve what I wasn’t going to be able to experience this, this time around.  But after having a good cry we were determined to help this baby eat well and gain the weight she needed to gain.  In those first few days she had trouble with her own saliva and seemed to have trouble breathing, and also spit up a lot.  We had to watch her like hawks, and it felt as though we would never sleep again… she seemed so fragile, we felt like brand new parents once again.  We were wading in uncharted waters.  All of this has been new for us.  In those first few days she wasn’t pooping like we thought she would either, but because she pretty much started eating a day late, everything else started a day late!  We are so proud of Mae though, she is doing SO well with her new bottles.  Something you don’t think about breast/bottle fed babies, is that the mother has to pump, then we have to feed the baby, clean and sanitize bottles and everything every day… it’s a lot!  It’s twice the work if not more!  But, Mae is eating and gaining weight.  She is pooping and peeing, she’s crying loud and demanding lots of attention.

Every single thing we have done with her it feels like we have to fight to get what we want or need, but it has all been worth it.  So well will continue on the journey.  For now we make sure she eats and gains enough weight, until her surgery which will probably happen in October or November.