It seems a little unreal that I’m documenting my very last birth story. It tears at my heart just a little knowing that this chapter in our life has come to an end. But at the same time, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude as I realize our family is now complete, with all seven of us.
I feel like Oaklee’s story begins not just last February when I learned I was pregnant, but six years ago just following Preslee’s death. I immediately began praying for another child and each time we learned we were expecting, I hoped and prayed for a girl, mainly because that is what I loved and missed. We were blessed with three boys who I love more than life, but I always hoped we would be blessed with one more girl.
I remember Pat saying, “Ash, maybe this is how it’s supposed to be, Preslee will make getting to the other side that much sweeter, when we will finally be able to raise our only daughter.” And that’s when I started to let go, and it hurt. I eventually talked Pat into trying for one more, and you can imagine my reaction when we learned a little girl was on the way.
On October 26th, I went in for my 38 week appointment, where I learned I was dilated to a four, and my blood pressure had spiked. After the nurse checked it four times (I’ve never had high blood pressure before) Dr. G recommended I be induced on Friday, the 28th of October. I was actually relieved because at that point it was the longest I had ever been pregnant, and it also meant we could make arrangements for my parents to drive down to watch our boys.
Note: This is the first time I had a photographer take pictures during delivery, and I am soooo happy I did, especially where it was my last! All pictures were taken by Brittany Cascio, the photographer who also took our last family pictures with Preslee. She has now watched our family come full circle, and we couldn’t be more grateful for Brittany and her talent.
My phone rang at 7:53 AM on Friday morning, on the other end was the nurse asking me to be at the hospital (IMC) at 9:00 AM. Excitement and giddiness set in, and I don’t think anything could have wiped the smile off my face. We quickly finished getting ready, grabbed the hospital bag and our bright pink diaper bag, kissed the boys goodbye and were off to have a baby, discussing our top three names on the way.
I had never been induced before, (I checked in dilated to an 8 with the twins) and could not believe how calm of an experience it was! We parked the car and I waddled inside to check in. No hard contractions, it was wonderful. We were led to room 11 and I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the instruments laid out for our unborn baby. This was really happening, our little girl was on the way.
Pat helped me into my lovely blue hospital gown and I climbed into bed. The nurse struggled with my IV and had to pull out a machine that helped her find my veins, (It was pretty cool) and then she checked to see how dilated I was, and announced I was dilated to a 5.
Shortly after, the anesthesiologist arrived. It’s a total game changer to get an epidural without experiencing contractions at the same time. But without anything to focus on, I felt a whole lot more than I have in the past, and it freaked me out a little bit. But this is always Pat’s favorite part of the delivery, and Pat was thrilled when they let him close up to watch.
Shortly after, Dr. G came down and broke my water.
I loved my nurse. She was always there, but not pushy or in my space. She was perfect. She turned up the pitocin, and then the waiting game began.
Pat grabbed me some ice chips, I experienced one sick spell when my blood pressure dropped, and just a couple of hours later, I felt some pressure and asked to be checked. Sure enough, the nurse grinned and said, “I can’t believe you didn’t feel this earlier! She’s ready!”
My nurse, Dr. G, and a student shadowing my doctor, got suited up and prepped for delivery. Dr. G’s bubbly personality is contagious, and within minutes the delivery room a fun happy place with a lot of laughter. (Epidurals are seriously amazing!)
With everyone surrounding me, I was told to push as soon as my contraction started. I remember everyone praising me while I pushed, and just two contractions later, Dr. G. exclaimed, “She has so much dark hair!” That was all the motivation I needed.With Pat on my left, and two more pushes, our little girl was born at 2:20 pm.
They held up a very pink baby who let out a cry, and I cried. From that moment on she was my sole focus. They laid her on my chest on top of a towel and rubbed her down. She was pink, and had a soft cry just like her older sister. I remember Pat repeatedly kissing me on the forehead, with watering eyes. The nurse unbuttoned my hospital gown and placed my daughter on my chest where she nuzzled right in for the next uninterrupted hour. It was love at first sight.
I remember looking up at Pat while staring at our newborn and saying, “Oaklee Grace?” He responded with, “I was thinking the same thing,” which honestly surprised me, because we both had been leaning towards different names. As I laid there staring at her, still deciding if she looked like an Oaklee, Pat informed me the messages had been sent to friends and family, and so Oaklee it was!
After an hour, little Oaklee weighed in at 7 pounds 1 ounce, and measured 21 inches long. Our biggest and longest baby yet.
My nurse cleaned me up and still feeling numb, I slid into a wheelchair where they pushed me and Oaklee up to the 3rd floor and into room 323. Pat anxiously set up the room and my mom called my dad to tell him he could bring the boys up to meet their sister.
We couldn’t wait for the boys to arrive, and heard their squeals and excited voices echoing clear down the hall. With a stuffed animal they had picked out for her in hand, they slowly peeked around the door frame and seconds later seemed to be as smitten as much as Pat and I were.
Their visit was a whirlwind. They boys were so hyper and loved pushing every button they could see that it made their visit a little stressful. At one point we thought they had broke the bed… but the chaos was well worth the look on each of their faces when they held their sister for the first time.
Shortly after, Pat left with my parents and the boys to go eat dinner. It was the first time I was alone with Oaklee, and within minutes I started bawling. (I blame the raging hormones) It was in the quiet moments at the hospital that I felt Preslee’s presence. I think that is one of the reasons why I’m so sad this stage in our life is coming to an end. New babies tend to bring a little piece of heaven with them, and their sister always seems to be included. I’ll definitely miss those sacred/special moments spent in the hospital holding a newborn.
Oaklee swallowed a large amount of amniotic fluid during delivery and kept silently choking on it. She had a scary spell in the middle of the night, and ended up being put on oxygen, so they encouraged me to stay a second night where they could help watch her while I slept. The second day I spent the morning with my parents, and Pat in the afternoon. That evening we had our first girl’s night watching Hocus Pocus vegging out on cheese and crackers. :)
Sunday morning Pat came to pick us up. He grabbed our bags and I grabbed our little girl and we left as quick as we could so Pat could get Ledger to the primary program at church.
As I finish typing this with Oaklee in my arms and reminiscing over the last few weeks, I’m left feeling with an incredible amount of gratitude. I remember sitting in the hospital realizing Preslee wasn’t going to live much longer and wondering what the future held for us. I wasn’t sure how I was going to function without being a mother anymore. Now six years later, my arms are full with four other kids.
Motherhood is such a sacred and beautiful experience and I’m grateful I’ve been able to experience it. It’s something I hope to never take for granted.
We love you Oaklee, welcome to the family.