Today’s story is one that displays in an incredible way the Lord’s protection over a tiny baby boy who, against odds, was born safely into the loving arms of his family of five. Sullivan’s beautiful mama, Jaime, joins us today to give the amazing story of his birth, and the breathtaking surprise they encountered upon delivery!
“You’d think your fourth birth would be a cake walk, right? People kept telling me my body would know exactly what to do… muscle memory and that my son would probably just walk out. Sullivan Michael was born on October 16, 2014 and I wasn’t quite prepared for what was to come.
My 3 prior deliveries were pretty textbook. I gave birth to my first daughter, Sophia Raye, in 2007. She came on her own and on her due date, which is typical of her personality (she hates being late). I received a planned epidural with Sophia as I was uncertain as to what birth was like. In 2010 my second daughter, Scarlett Patricia, arrived 4 days late which, again, is quite typical of her personality (late sleeper, a little pokey). With Scarlett I was bound and determined to have an unmedicated, IV free birth. I did it. It was painful. I tore so much because she had a large head and came out with her hand raised. I’m glad I went naturally with Sophia because I was curious as to what millions of women have done before me. My third child, Samuel Robert, arrived a week early on March 1, 2012. I decided I would wait to find out the gender until birth. Finding out Samuel’s gender at birth was the best 30 seconds of my life and well worth the 9-month wait. I never grew up with brothers and secretly really wanted a son, so I was shocked to actually deliver a bouncing baby boy.
31 months later in October of 2014 I was preparing to deliver my fourth baby, Sullivan Michael. His pregnancy was very difficult. In addition to being a busy mom of 3, I had severe headaches, all day nausea, and vomiting (which let up at the magical 17th week, just as with my previous pregnancies!). We found out Sullivan’s gender at the 20-week ultrasound appointment and surprised the kids with blue balloons… They loved it!
The eve of October 16th, one week before my due date, I started having pretty strong contractions. I called my husband around 5 pm and told him he should probably come home from the office, just in case. We hadn’t even packed our hospital bags! Funny side note: With baby #1 and baby #2, the bag was 90% packed by 20 weeks. In fact, as an example of what four kids has done to my (long lost) Type A personality, I found out I was pregnant with my first at 5 weeks gestation and immediately started a baby registry. Who does that?! Now, just one week before my due date with #4, I hadn’t even packed my hospital bag!
As I packed my hospital bag, the contractions became stronger and stronger. When I start tearing up during contractions, my husband knows it’s time to go to the hospital (he’s had plenty of practice). I was crying and breathing through contractions. The tears, I think, were a combination of hormones, excitement, fear, and adrenaline. We made it to the car and Sophia (my oldest daughter, age 7 at the time) jumped in the backseat. We had planned for her to be at the birth, but not present during labor. Sophia has wanted to be an OB/GYN her entire life so we knew she wasn’t getting out of the car. I was too preoccupied with my contractions to even care. At the ripe young age of 7, Sophia watched the entire labor and delivery of her baby brother, even staying up into the wee hours of the next morning. The doctor thought it was awesome that Sophia was involved and even let her examine the placenta afterwards… she was in heaven! Scarlett (my 2nd daughter) joined us in the delivery room, as well as my mom, my two sisters, and two of my friends… it was quite a party in there!
We arrived at the hospital around 7 pm and after my pelvic exam they found that I was only 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced. This was disappointing because (from my previous birth experiences) the contractions I was having usually meant I was at 6 or 7cm. Nonetheless, because my contractions were regular and the hospital was slow they decide to officially admit me! I’ve had some depressing false labors before, so being admitted and knowing that you aren’t leaving the hospital without a baby in your arms is one of the best feelings in the world. I labored naturally (no Pitocin) for 2-3 hours and progressed to 4 cm and 90% effacement. I received an epidural and labor progressed so that I was soon ready for my doctor. Dr. Jon C., father of 7 and a very well-practiced OB/GYN, entered my room. 33 years ago he was supposed to deliver me, but happened to be out of town. He made up for it that night…in so many ways.
My water never breaks on it’s own, but once it’s broken things go rather quickly. Soon after Doctor C. broke my water, I was ready to push. I pushed, but Sullivan would not move down.
With every push, Sullivan’s heart rate was plummeting. Instead of wheeling me in for an emergency C-section, Dr. C. made the wise and quick decision to use a less invasive vacuum method to pull him out. Upon birth it was discovered that Sullivan had his umbilical cord knotted (nuchal cord knot, image below), and wrapped completely around his neck! He had performed some sort of somersault in utero and made a knot in his cord. The knot didn’t present a problem until he was supposed to descend. Many babies with a nuchal cord knot descend prior to delivery and, as a result, the knot is pulled taught and cuts of all blood and oxygen supplies to the baby. If Sullivan would have descended weeks prior to birth his cord would have been pulled taught, likely causing him to be stillborn. Dr. C’s decision to swiftly deliver via vacuum saved Sullivan’s life. My baby boy was born quickly at 1:56 AM, weighing 7 lbs., 12.5 oz and measuring 21.5” long.
God kept Sullivan from descending on his own and allowed Dr. C. to help him quickly pass through the birth canal. Because Sullivan had also managed to wrap the cord around his neck, he was born with less than perfect Apgar’s. They placed him on my chest and rubbed him down while I had my first look at him. They then moved him to the incubator for a quick round of tests. Thankfully, Sullivan perked up and was returned to me within minutes. All I could do was thank God for this baby, for this miracle, and for giving me the chance to be his mama. I’ll never forget holding my baby, surrounded by my loved ones, and shaking Dr. C’s hand. If one could convey all their emotions into one handshake, I did it.
My birth photographer, Erika Schirmer of Eurekame Photography, captured all of these powerful images. Life is delicate and precious and I was given a reminder of that on October 16, 2014. I am so thankful for the privilege of raising four babies.”
“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:13-14
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