August 9, 2011

Birth Story

If you are not familiar with Libby’s story, she was diagnosed with cancer when her daughter Ava was 6 months old. Today she shares her birth story & video from Ava’s birthday…

i have told her story many times. but this is the first time i have written it down. i have been thinking about the blog and cancer and how when she gets older we will begin to tell her our own family story. her story too of when mommy got sick. but before we tell her that one i think we should start from the beginning. the day that changed us.

ava suzanna’s birth story.

a few months before we got pregnant justin had a dream. a dream that we had a little girl and her name was ava. so it was less about if and more about when…

in april 2009 our dear nephew jack was born. justin and i booked our flight and headed to ky. there was bad weather so we were rerouted to greensboro, nc for the night. we got a hotel and had a flight to ky in the morning. we decided maybe we would think about trying for a baby.

on april 30th we found out i was pregnant. i had this slight feeling i might be so i went to rite aid and got a test. i was headed home to make dinner and when i got there justin was already home. he had no idea. but i remember beaming inside. even though i had not even taken the test yet. so i went into the bathroom and it. went into the kitchen to continue making dinner. a few minutes later i went and check it and there it was: pregnant (actually it was two lines. i did not buy the fancy digital kind). i remember feeling like it was fake. surreal. so thrilled. asked justin to come into the bathroom because i had to show him something. the test was laying on the counter and i said, “look!” he said, “at what?” i pointed and he still needed some direction. i said i am PREGNANT. he looked in shock. confused. happy, i think. he picked me up and we hugged and he kept saying, “we are going to have a baby…we are going to have a baby.” i said, “yup. this is good right?” “yes, but i guess we will need a crib”…yes, justin a crib and about a hundred other things. ava was on her way.

i loved being pregnant. i loved everything about it. but i was sick. horribly terribly sick for 14 weeks. throwing up several times a day, nauseous, and exhausted. but worth it. i would do it a hundred times over.

fast word. after months of appointments, a growing belly, baby showers, all the nursery details in order. a name. we had finally agreed. although we both knew it was going to be ava. we fought it for a little while. ava was one of the most common girl names in 2009. we did not want her to have a real common name. so we tosses around layla. for a little while she was layla. but we knew. no matter how much we fought it…our first born daughter was going to be our sweet ava.

we were ready. so ready. january 4 was her big day. on new years eve my parents were in town from washington and we had hung out all day so i wanted to go out that night. all that day i was having “contractions.” as a first time mom you do not really know what to expect and because we were anxious for her arrival i desperately wanted this to be it. so we timed them. they were definitely consistent. on the way home we swung by the hospital just to get me checked out. sadly no progress. as we walked out of the hospital that night i said to justin, “we will not return to this hospital unless i am positive this little girl is coming.” it was so disappointing to have had what i thought were contractions all day and i was not dilated at all. home we went.

i started rereading parts of what to expect when you are expecting. all the labor and contraction info again. we did not take any classes. but felt okay about that. read the book my mom gave me on nursing. called nursing your baby. pretty incredible. i recommend it. just wanted to be ready to go whenever it did happen. what would it feel like? how can you tell? all the questions a first time mom wonders. it’s all so new. so foreign. but still so right. i felt a peace. like i was made for this. i can handle this. we can do this. i was not scared about labor. or about being a mom. it was less about fear and more about…what will this all be like?

secretly i loved that last week or so before she came because anytime i called justin he would pick up on the first ring. is she coming? is it time? i would say no…but can you pick up some ice cream for me please? Reese’s blizzard to be exact from dq. so we waited. then we went into to see my doctor on the 6th. two days late. i was 50% effaced but no dilation so we schedule an induction. i start crying. i was devastated. i wanted her to come naturally. in her time. no drugs. so in an effort to prepare myself i sorta stopped thinking ever cramp, stomach pain, etc was an indication this little one was coming. i was wrapping my head around january 12. her new birthday.

that night we had campaigners. bible study with young life students. i went at the beginning to see people and say hi since i would most likely not be around for a while. our good friend mary beth said, “tonight might be the night…” to which i openly say…”nope. we have been thinking that for days and still no baby. i am tired of living like this”

but ava was getting ready. i took a bath that night. had been doing that most nights. touching my belly imaging what she would be like. look like. feel like. how would she act? would i be a good mommy? how would life change? could we do it? clearly not knowing the answers. not really wanting to. just thinking. about all the unknowns of this little girl inside me.

i honestly did not expect anything. i was ready for next week. not tonight. but around 2am i woke up with some pain. pretty bad. but i walked it out. i got up and walked around our bedroom until the pain stopped. went back to sleep. woke up again with the same pain and walked it out. then i laid in bed and thought…”maybe i should i time these?” so i did. 10 minutes apart. 7 minutes apart. justin is still asleep. i figure why wake him until its really necessary. 5 minutes apart. 2 minutes apart. pain is increasing. these are contractions. for sure. no doubt. this is it. i wake up justin. still not ready to go to the hospital. i did not want to be sent home. but we call our doctor’s office and they tell us to go ahead and go.

i take a quick shower. thinking that if it was false labor the contractions would stop in the shower. they did not. they got worse. i hunch over in the shower and grab the side of the wall. i yell to justin…”okay this is it. pack the car. we need to go.” a few minutes later he comes to check on me and says the car is packed. let’s go. i am putting on mascara quick in between contractions.

we head out. in the car was bad. you have no where to go. your body becomes stiff and the pain is intense but you are stuck. no more walking through the pain. instead i grab whatever i can in the car to help get through the contractions.

this is it. she is coming. our first baby. everything is going to change. that is what everyone told us. but for the best. oh, how it will change us forever. we are becoming a family. welcoming a new little life into our partnership of two. but now it will be three.

we arrive. it’s around 9:30am and i get all hooked up. the nurse checks me. i say to her in all seriousness…”if i am not dilated do not even tell me. i do not even want to know.”

“honey…you are almost 8cm!” “WHAT?!?!” she asks if i want an epidural. “um, yes please!”

justin turns on the ipod. ava’s playlist is ready. the lights are turned down. i get my epidural and we wait. we watch the contractions on the monitor. justin tells me when they are coming. i can feel them. a little. but not like before. we talk. justin sits real close. we know these are our last hours just the two of us. we talk about our marriage. our baby. we finally agreed on her middle name. we relax. it was peaceful. better than i ever imagined. i think as a first time mom you hear so many stories. everyone shares their experiences. i listened. i appreciated what other wise woman had to share. but i knew our story would be our own. and it was far better than anything i had ever imagined.

i rested. we listened to music. justin took some video. we talked. we prayed.

oh, ava please know how much you were prayed for. from day one we prayed for you. your little body developing. your heart. who you will become forever. we never stopped praying. we promise we never will.

i continued to progress. around 11:30am the nurse checked me again.

10cm. get ready. she is coming.

with music playing it felt peaceful. honestly it was not loud and crazy or like grey’s anatomy at all. far less dramatic than what i imagined. which i love. that’s our style. i held justin’s hand so tight as he counted to ten for each push. after a couple pushes i asked…”how long does this usually take?” our midwife and nurses laughed. “it varies.”

“my goal is less than an hour.” so i push. and push. and push.

i missed my goal by seven minutes. at 12:37am…ava suzanna ryder arrived. pink and puffy. all nine pounds of her. i guess i was made to have big babies because labor was a joy. she was little to us. our tiny baby. she was here. healthy. a little purple. girl forgot to breath in all the commotion.

they got her breathing no problem and laid that sweet baby on my chest.

i whispered to her…”i am your momma. you are safe and you are loved. so loved.”

we had a steady stream of visitors for the next two days. so many people so excited to meet her. it was said over and over those first days…”she has no idea how many people love her already.”

ava i hope you know how loved you are. so many people were so excited for your little life from the second you arrived. you brought such joy. without even knowing it.

so that’s it. your story. your birth story.

unbelievable to me how one little life can change everything. you changed it all for us ava and we love it.

thank you for giving me the strength and desire to fight. when we told our friend katie that i had cancer i told her…”i am thankful we have ava because now i will fight harder.”

it’s true little girl. although i still feel pain when i think about you and cancer and those initial weeks after the diagnosis. i know that i fought harder and endured more because of you. i wanted you to see strength and what it looked like to trust in the Lord when we were scared and angry and sad and not sure about what was ahead. we knew we were not alone and He was in this with us. He gave us you. He gave me you just so cancer would be a little bit easier. even though it was harder in some ways to take care of you while having cancer. i know that you were the greatest gift the Lord ever could have given us in cancer. it changed everything. you walked through the craziest time in our lives and you did not even know it. but one day you will. because you will hear stories. daddy will share with you his heart and i will share mine. we will share this little blog with you and how you brought such life to our lives. without evening knowing it. my sweet sweet baby carried me through cancer. i love that. i love that in Christ life is full of mystery and adventure. He used you to bring me life while facing death.

thank you. thank you. thank you.

my sweet baby. we love you.

libby ryder

Ava Birth Video from Justin Ryder on Vimeo.

click here for info on how to submit your birth story.

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Comments (2)

  1. Wow.

  2. Tears….beautiful story, thanks for sharing Libby and Justin.

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