matt, thank you for your heart and in recording our day, right away, so that we never forget what we went through and what it took to bring milo home. i could not have done it without you. you made all the difference to me in making it through. it is a privilege to be the object of your affection. i love you.
Milo’s Journey (Through Dad’s eyes)
I awoke at 2 AM to Anna’s sweet voice, “Matty, I think my water just broke…” Sure enough, the day we got to meet our son had arrived. We had gone to bed at around midnight the night before, so we didn’t exactly start the day off very rested, but when I heard those words I jumped out of bed as if I had been asleep for 10 hours. I walked over to Anna’s side of the bed and I prayed for her – for courage, peace and that Jesus would be in this day.
Anna walked to the bathroom and I started gathering everything from the list that Anna had already had printed off laying on our baby bag we had previously packed with all that we could up to that point. We thought it best Anna take a shower to try and relax and get as comfy as possible while she was still able to manage contractions. I put the calls and texts out to the parents that the day had officially started. J
The contractions started 10-20 minutes after her water broke. She coped so well, would stop, sway, breathe… then get back to the task at hand. Around 4am I called Kattie, our doula, and told her that Anna’s water broke and that the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. By this time they had started increasing in intensity as well. Kattie headed over. I also called and texted Erin (our dear friend and photographer), but didn’t get her at first. As things started getting more intense, I called again when Kattie made it to the house around 4:30am. Erin answered and was already getting her stuff in the car. She had this feeling the night before she needed to get ready and had got all her gear together. She was now on her way up.
By about 5:15am we decided we needed to head to the hospital. It was a cold, foggy day and Kattie said the fog was very thick so we didn’t want to risk a long drive if things started picking up in the car. I packed the car with all our things; baby bag, yoga ball, snack cooler, camera bags, pillows and baby’s car seat. Anna climbed in the backseat so she could have room to move if she needed to adjust for contractions. Kattie was right, the fog was thick, but it looked the same as the previous week’s morning drive to work.
We arrived at the hospital and parked the car. Kattie followed behind us in her car. We grabbed what we could for the time and walked across the parking lot to the elevator that went down to the Women and Children’s Pavilion at Providence. We checked into Triage on the fourth floor at 5:45am. The security guard had informed us we were about the 6th expectant mom to have arrived in the last hour or so already, so it wasn’t a surprise it took a few to get her back and started on the monitor.
They hooked her to the monitor to check baby and contractions. They had to “verify” she was really in active labor, even though the signs were pretty clear. They confirmed it and upon checking she was already dilated to 5-6cm, which was a huge relief Anna. I think we both were worried that things hadn’t progressed as much as we thought and we would be stuck then wandering halls trying to get her going since her water had already broken. One of the triage nurses attempted to put an IV in, and didn’t have much success. It wasn’t the best start to the experience, but she let her have a break so we could get checked into a birthing room. The nurse came down and Joy (one of the Providence midwives) was on staff at that time. It was about 30 minutes until her shift was over, but we were thankful to get to see her as she was Anna’s favorite that we had seen during her checkups. She told us that the next midwife on staff was Gretchen. We hadn’t had the chance to meet her previously, but God knew exactly the support and care Anna needed, as Gretchen was absolutely amazing with her. She had this great spunk and energy and was so encouraging to Anna when things got scary later. The nurse assigned to us was Heather. She was a gem as well. Anna was already worried about the IV getting started again, and when Heather mentioned she was going to get it started, Anna so sweetly said, “I understand, but is it okay if someone else could do it, that last one was really bad.” Heather replied, “Oh, um, someone other than me?” totally understanding. But Anna just meant someone besides the triage nurse. Sure enough, Heather got it right in, got the hep lock on so they’d have access if need be.
By 6:50am we had made it to room 313 – the place where we’d meet our boy. It was still a dark, foggy morning through the window, but we could tell we were on the west side of the building looking out toward the Everett Naval base. The fog would later break and we’d have a view of the aircraft carrier sitting in port.
I believe I gave Heather a copy of our birth plan when we got to the room. I know people sometimes scoff at the concept of a birth plan, but I can’t say how much we appreciated the staff’s willingness to do all they could to stick with Anna’s wishes for the birth. They didn’t once ask if she was “sure” she didn’t want pain meds, they wrote on the board the things we wanted for the baby after delivery, and acted on every request Anna had for laboring.
The contractions kept coming 2-3 minutes apart and were continually increasing in intensity. Around 8am (I think, I started to lose track of the timeline at this point) someone suggested she try the tub and started to draw the water. Anna climbed in and labored for about an hour. Changing from laying back, to on her knees over a pillow, to her side. Kattie started pouring warm water on her back, which seem to feel good. Even now I could see the strength in Anna’s eyes – with each contraction coming and going, rocking back and forth, each one bringing slightly a slight bigger vocal response. Then she’d sink back into the rest between.
After about an hour it was time to change things up. Anna got out, and made her way back over to the bed between several more contractions. Things had really heated up by now and Gretchen wanted to check her again – 9.5 cm! it was close to 9am or so by now and the morning light had been shining through the window. Anna was at the end of the bed, laying over a ball working through a contraction when our good friend Erin walked through the door. We made eye contact and she whispered, “She’s doing so good!” as Anna finished that contraction and looked over… “Hiiii, friend,” she said with a small smile.
I lost track of the exact order, but during the check Gretchen noticed there was still a ‘forebag’ of waters blocking baby’s head from coming down and fully dilating the cervix. She told us she could break the bag, or Anna could labor for a bit longer and see if it would happen naturally. Kattie was so helpful and just reminded us we could take a minute to talk about what we wanted to do. Gretchen went to check on another mama while we discussed and Anna continued to labor for what I remember to be about another half an hour. We decided it would be good to go ahead and get the forebag out of the way so she could keep progressing, knowing the intensity would increase rather quickly. I could see some fear in Anna’s eyes, but with each passing contraction, she would bear down, get into the groove, work through and come back to us.
Using the crochet hook-looking instrument, Gretchen broke the bag of waters that was left and it was a pretty immediate rush and shift – this baby was close to meeting us. I believe it was around 10:30-11am at this point.
The pain had become very hard to handle. Contractions were much more intense, and Anna had started pushing toward the end of each rush. She’d let out a moan and toward the end of each you could hear her bear down as her body started to push that little man further and further down. At some point Gretchen checked her again, and there was still a bit of cervical rim that wasn’t flattening due to the forebag, so she had to help push it out of the way. At this point of the contractions, it was so hard for Anna to find a comfortable place to push. Nothing felt good: side, back, all fours, standing/squatting. She ended up on her back, squat bar up wither her feet resting on the bars. I believe Kattie suggested tying a sheet to the squat bar for her to have to hold onto. It was amazing how that sheet became something Anna needed to cope through the rest of labor.
I was on Anna’s left, Kattie on her right. As things intensified, Anna became much more vocal. I think it surprised her what sounds were coming from her as she’s not typically that way. It was so difficult for me to see her like that. Many times I couldn’t utter the words to her I wanted to as tears were welling up so thick in my eyes I couldn’t help but cry watching her writhe in the pain of these contractions.
Thank you, Kattie. Thank you, Jesus, for giving Anna the knowledge that she would need more support during this than me. Kattie was such an amazing support to both Anna and myself throughout the entire day, but at this point she became invaluable. As I would stand there holding Anna’s neck through a contraction, or in between as Anna cried, and I couldn’t control my own tears, Kattie would lean in and grab Anna’s face, “Anna – who is in control? God, that’s right. You’re doing this, this is just like you planned, just as we talked about. I know it’s hard but you can do this. Okay push with your stomach, not through your face. Anna – its okay, you’re doing this, you’re doing this.” She’d make eye contact with me and reassure me that it was okay, that even though it was scary, it was normal, that every woman going through a natural childbirth had similar responses to help them cope. I can’t say how much I appreciated her presence there – for me and my wife.
By now the baby had really descended down. He had made it through the pelvic bone, but I heard Gretchen tell Heather (our nurse) that the baby was OP, or face up. I looked at Heather and said, “I don’t know what OP is, what does that mean?” and she just said, “Oh, he’s just turned a little bit, don’t worry.” In hindsight, I so appreciate that she didn’t say that meant he was face up and that it meant pushing this man out would be a lot more difficult. But it also shed some light on why the back pain was so intense for Anna.
As I write this part, I have tears welling up. The feelings I had at this moment were such intense pride in Anna, yet so much longing to take this from her. My protective heart was being crushed seeing her head throw back and forward, and hearing her sobs, and screams through each contraction. Yet each time I watched her hand grip that sheet, and helped hold her head forward and could see every muscle from her face, through her neck, into her shoulders, chest, arms and hands bear down and strain for every last bit of energy she could find to push, it filled me with such awe and amazement that God could give her the strength to do that… Yet in the following breaths she experienced such fear and worry that things weren’t progressing. I would lean close, grab her face and whisper, “You are safe, you are strong. I know you, you can do this. You are safe, you are strong. You are not alone. You’re surrounded in prayer. Jesus is with you. He’s not leaving. I’m not leaving. You can do this.” Just long enough for her response of, “Okay, yes okay, another one is coming,” and the process would repeat.
When we first found out Anna was pregnant, I envisioned myself standing at the top of the bed supporting her, never looking at what was going on down below. But for those that feel the same, know that in those moments, seeing her body progress and push was nothing short of a miracle. All of a sudden I could see a quarter size part of his head and little wet hairs. With each push he’d come out a little further, then settle back in after, each time making just a little more progress. The nurse and midwife were in position, holding warm compresses to help with the stretching. With one of the last contractions finishing, his head was almost half way out and Anna felt like she was done, at the end of her rope and couldn’t go anymore, but he was SO close. Kattie and I both just repeated in her ears, “He’s so close, we can see him, Anna, you’re safe, you’re strong, you can do this. One more big push, Love, keep going.” As that final push came, she grabbed that sheet with all her might and got down into that push. She’s later said she felt this primal instinct kick in during those last contractions, just NEEDING him to be out.
Gretchen looked at me and said to get ready. The contraction came and Anna pushed with all she had, even pushing after the peak had left one more time and his head came free. I ran around the two nurses and jumped in front of Gretchen who had his head in her hand. I laid his neck in the crook of my hand and she coached me to pull him out. The feeling in my heart was so incredibly overwhelming that I don’t know I can put it to words. Seeing him come out, lifting him up and resting him on Anna’s chest was the most wonderful moment in my entire life. Anna’s eyes caught mine, and had instantly gone from excruciating pain, to a surreal joy and peace that he had arrived.
“He’s here, Love, its our boy! You did it! He’s perfect! He’s perfect.” I kissed her right hand as she hugged him with her left and drew him close.
Milo Demetre Fevergeon, born to this world at 12:36, January 21st 2013, 7 lbs 12 oz, 20.5” long. Milo means “soldier.” To us, we see soldier to mean a man that stands strong for what he believes in, stands firm in his faith and fights for what he knows to be good and true. That’s what we see in, hope for, and pray over our son.
Milo was here, resting on Anna’s chest. He was so alert, so perfect and wonderful. His little eyes would crack open to look up at his mama. I’ve never heard a better sound than those little lungs taking a breath and crying out. He was healthy, and so was mom and that was all that really mattered.
Gretchen waited for the cord to stop pulsing before putting the clamp on the cord, then looked at me and handed me the scissors and showed me where to cut and I did. They gave Anna a shot of pitocin to help her deliver the placenta and curb any extra bleeding, and within minutes that had passed too. It was uncomfortable as Gretchen had to massage Anna’s tummy to help make sure she didn’t bleed too much, but she handled it so well. I don’t remember the timeline much at this point other than them putting a white little gnome hat on Milo and covering him and mom with a blanket. Then we were able to just enjoy our little gift and have time for them to bond and meet each other. He almost immediately started sucking on Anna’s chest, looking around for food. After a bit they were able to swaddle him up, still covered in that white cheesy stuff he’d been sitting in for the last 9 months, but it was oh so sweet.
Over the next few hours Anna would feed him for the first time. We are so blessed that he just knew what he wanted and really didn’t struggle to latch at all. During the pregnancy, the idea of breastfeeding had been kind of worrisome for Anna. God knew the things she needed, and I am so thankful that he latched so quickly and it came so naturally for them both.
I eventually got to give him a bath, wipe him down with a warm soapy washcloth, then run his tiny head under the sink and gently scrub his little tiny hairs with a sponge. He liked the warm water on his head. They’d eventually weigh and measure him. Such a perfect little man.
As I write this, I’m listening to the playlist we had made Sunday night, not knowing in 2 hours we’d be starting the journey. “Beautiful things” just came on and I’m just dwelling on the line, “You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of dust, you make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us.” It’s so true. The miracle that God created our bodies to deliver his wonderful creation to this earth is truly amazing. HE creates BEAUTIFUL things OUT of us, not by us.
Later as we talked to Curt and Cathy, Curt made mention of imagining Jesus as a little baby like this, and how much differently I now see what it means in reference to the trinity – that the Father could send his Son to die for all of us. I can’t comprehend that kind of love. Even only knowing this boy for mere hours, I can’t imagine letting harm come to him.
Our parents would both get to meet him in the coming hours, it was so cool to see our moms and dads hold him, and just as instantly fall in love with him as they did when we were born. Milo is going to be blessed with a beautiful family, and grandparents that love him fiercely. I’m so thankful for them, the support they have been to us through the pregnancy, and even now as I sit on my couch back at home. Cathy is holding the little guy so Anna can get a little rest.
I can’t say enough how thankful I am for the support team we had through this process. To Kattie for every little thing she did to help through laboring and birth and making sure I ate before she left. To Erin for capturing this day on film, and really acting as another doula at times for Anna. Having been there herself, I could see her empathy as she looked on and would encourage Anna, and sit in silent prayer for her. Thankful for the staff God put in place for our time at the hospital. They were so good about keeping our wishes for the whole process. We even learned later that Heather (our nurse) wasn’t even assigned to Anna initially, but upon learning that Anna was having a natural birth, she offered to switch with the assigned nurse because she loves being a part of those births. I’m amazed as I look back on the day to see how God orchestrated his people, whether they knew it or not, to help Anna bring our boy home.
It was so good to meet you, Milo. I look forward to our many adventures together. I pray God will grab you and you will clutch him as soon as you are able; that you would know Him, know His grace, as I know I will fail you. But my prayer is that I can do what God would have me so that you would know him. I know you will be strong, and I pray for safety over you for all of your days. I love you with the absolute deepest part of me and your presence has drawn me even closer to your mom and our Jesus.