Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Breath of Life

"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
Genesis 2:7 NIV (emphasis mine)

Stillness.  Two grown men had been violently shaking and pushing and shoving on me.  Then stillness.  And silence.  

Silence.  I can't remember hearing a single, solitary sound.  It's not supposed to be this way, I thought to myself.  

I had been prepped for my c-section once they had me on the operating table...we'll hold your baby up above the sheet for you to see; here's the screen where you can watch the nurses as they check your baby.  No one prepped me for silence.  

I turned my head towards Jordan and muttered through the exhaustion and pain medication, "Is he out?"  

"Yes, he's out." 

It was how he said it. The sound of concern in his voice. I understood. I gave no reply. I prayed. Inside the deepest recesses of my being, I prayed. 

I held my breath as I strained my ears to hear even the faintest whimper. Silence. Thick, heart wrenching silence. For an eternity to me. 

Today, I reflect on what led me there to that moment. Two years ago today, I was on another operating table. I was having two large endometriomas removed from my ovaries. I was afraid. Afraid of not waking up. I had a beautiful baby girl I wanted to go home to. Your thought process changes when you have little ones. This wasn't my first surgery but it was my first since having Ava. It took a lot of prayer and quoting His promises to get me through. 

It was in the recovery room that my doctor told us that if we wanted more children, we needed to get started. And so our journey began. 

It was a little exciting to begin thinking of having another baby. And a little scary at the same time. Is this a good time for us? How will we adjust with two kids?  Can we afford another baby in daycare? Ava just turned three. How will she adjust? All the normal concerns ran through my mind. But I pushed them all away and knew that God would provide and see us through as He always had. 

Ava was a surprise baby. She wasn't that time in our lives. So, I expected to be expecting within just a couple of months post surgery. One, two, three, four, five months, UGH, what is going on here?! 

I had several months of frustration. Questioning my doctor. Having tests ran. Being "normal". Being persuaded to use fertility medication to be more aggressive. Finding no peace in using medicine if I'm "normal". That was when I knew or reminded myself that God had a plan and a perfect timing for baby number two. 

So, we stopped "trying" so hard. Decided to just hold off on the whole idea. 

In April 2012, Jordan and I made a list of things we were praying and believing God for. Two of my requests were to be able to quit my full time job and be a stay at home mom and photographer and to have more babies. 

There. It was on paper. In blue ink. As many times as I'd verbalized the prayer, it never seemed as final and permanent and real as it did once it was etched on that small piece of paper. 

Did I face the following months in faith and contentment? No. I cried. A lot. And I felt selfish. A lot. I had a beautiful baby girl. I have friends longing for even just one. I've fought in prayer countless numbers of times for my friends. I felt so selfish crying out for myself. I had to keep reminding myself that God has a perfect time...for me...for my friends. I had to find my solace in that truth. So I continued to wait. 

While I waited, God was working on my heart. I, vividly, remember a moment in a church service when every ounce of me, finally, became content with the thought of never having more children. It was a place God wanted me to reach. A place of complete surrender to His will and not my own. A place of being fully grateful and thankful for all He had already blessed me with. A place of being satisfied if He never gave me another thing in this life. I had my amazing husband. I had my gorgeous daughter. I had Him. And HE was enough. I felt chains break from the deepest chambers of my heart. I felt a freedom I hadn't felt in months. And that freedom gave me the renewed energy to press on with what He had already entrusted to me. 

As September 2012 approached, Jordan and I were strongly praying about my job situation. Work was busy and stressful. My busy photography season was looming ahead and I felt overwhelmed before it even started. We both felt God was providing the opportunity to turn in my notice and start pursuing my dreams. 

My last day at CRC was toward the end of September 2012. We went on a fun family vacation to Disney World the next week. I cannot explain how amazing it was to go on that vacation without stressing over what workload would await me when we returned home. Aaaah! 

I was looking forward to working on photography stuff, having fun with Ava and being this amazing housewife that had a clean house and dinner on the table when Jordan got home. All those fun things I'd imagined being a stay at home mom would look like. 

A few weeks into October and I was swamped with editing photo sessions and feeling rather wiped out at the end of each day. By the end of October I got hit with a light touch of the stomach bug. Or so I thought....

A positive home pregnancy test brought a lot of excitement and some laughs. Really God?! Really?! I just came home from working and now I'm pregnant?! What a sense of humor You have! 

Ava had me blinded to the realities of a pregnancy. I was never sick. Felt great until the end. I had no trouble sleeping and was pretty comfortable throughout the 36 weeks I carried her. I was induced at 36 weeks due to preeclampsia. Ava was born perfectly healthy at 6 pounds, 3 ounces. My only hope for this pregnancy was that I wouldn't end up dealing with preeclampsia again. 

Fifteen weeks of morning sickness. Lower back pain. Hip pain. Sleepless nights. Oh, this was not going to be like Ava's pregnancy. At all. 

Felt movement at 15 weeks. Felt like it was a boy but didn't want to get my hopes up. Found out it was a boy at 20 weeks. Michael Pierce Williamson. A son. We will have a boy and a girl. I'd always wanted 3 kids. At the rate this pregnancy was going, two may be it. Pierce was strong. His kicks were painful. He'd stretch out. Push. Shove. He did not let the confines of my uterus restrict him. I would joke and say he would kick himself out of me when I made it to delivery time. 

At 32 and a half weeks, I was on my way to labor and delivery with pre-term contractions 3-4 minutes apart. They hooked me up to all the monitors to check on him and me. They gave me a brethine injection to stop the contractions. I had an allergic reaction. I'm not allergic to anything. I'm going to be allergic to the only injection they can administer to stop contractions?! No. I can't have a baby this early. As much as I was over being pregnant (because of how uncomfortable this one was), I knew I wanted to keep him inside for at least 4 or 5 more weeks. Two weeks later, I was back in the hospital. Contractions were more uncomfortable than the first time, although I'd still been having contractions since then. The medication I was taking didn't help a lot. No progress so I was sent back home. 

At my 36 week checkup, my doctor told me I could stop the medicine and that baby was head down. So he was ready and if I ended up in L&D again with good progress, she wouldn't stop it. I made a note of the nights she was on call and crossed my fingers that he would decide to come on one of those days. 

I had my plan. God had His. 

It was Saturday, June 15th. I was "nesting". Packing bags. Cleaning house. Just in case. Too busy to notice how uncomfortable I was. Had a sign (I won't mention here) that labor was probably close...could be hours, could still be days. When I, finally, sat in the recliner to rest, I noticed the contractions. They progressively grew worse and closer together. I called the doctor on call. Not my doctor. Disappointment. Contraction. Pain. Didn't care who was on call. Just get him OUT!

Headed into the hospital. Fast. With flashers on fast. The pain was other worldly. Nothing like Ava's. I endured 5 unmedicated hours of labor with her. This was beyond comprehension. Any thoughts I'd had of a natural delivery were long gone. I need an epidural NOW! Surely, I'm like 6cm right now. 

I can't remember what time we arrived at the hospital. Maybe around 2pm or 3pm. I only remember the disappointing news that I was still only at 1.5cm. You're kidding me?!?! They won't give me an epidural until I'm at least at 4cm. Good Lord, please get me to 4cm. I can't go home in this pain. He's got to come out today. 

I'd had a dose of Demerol and phenergen for pain. Felt nauseous but a non-caring, know-it-all nurse, assures me I'm not getting sick because she gave me the phenergen after the demerol. Cue vomiting. While contracting. I wanted to die. Still not much progress and hardly any relief from the pain. Nurse shift change at 7pm. Thank You Jesus!

A dose of nubane (sp?). Nurse checked me again and only at 3.5cm. Oh Jesus. Help me. Another dose of Demerol and phenergen. Nurse called the doctor, Dr. Robinette, and told him I was at 4cm. She was very sympathetic. Stretched the truth for me just a bit. Waiting for Dr. Robinette to come because they can't give me an epidural without him present. Waiting. Feels like forever. 

He arrives. He checks me. He doesn't feel Pierce's head. Orders an ultrasound. The nurse comes in with the ultrasound machine. Still contracting. Still in pain. Pierce is sideways. Just 3 days ago he was head down. Strong boy you are. 

Dr. Robinette says I'll need a cesarean. 

"Can't you flip him?!", I asked. 

"No sweetie. You need a c-section. We need to get him out. We'll take care of you."

I surrender. Seems I've done a lot of that lately. 

An anesthesiologist comes in to give me the epidural. He tells me it may take 10 minutes for the whole procedure. Ten more minutes of contractions like this?! Make it snappy sir!! 

Trying to sit still on the side of the bed while having out of this world contractions while having a large needle shoved into your back??? If Adam and Eve were standing in front of me at that moment, I'd have slapped them both and done every female in the world a favor. 

Then there was relief. No more pain. Calm. Let's get to the operating room and get this baby out. 

Another anesthesiologist entered the room to give Jordan details on what was about to take place and help him with his scrubs. I would head to the OR first and Jordan would join me in just a few minutes. 

What I learned from Jordan a day later is that just before being taken to the OR, he saw Pierce's heart rate on the monitor bottom out. The nurse told the anesthesiologist that they needed to get me to OR ASAP. But his heart rate regulated before I left the room so the nurse relaxed a bit. 

The operating room was cold. Frigid. 

Jim, my anesthesiologist, was stationed by my head. He kept asking if I could feel anything when he'd press on my legs until we reached complete numbness. I thought they were going to start before Jordan was brought in the room so I just mentioned Jordan's name to Jim and he reassured me that he was on his way. 

Within seconds, Dr. Robinette bounded through the doors with another doctor, Freeman, who would assist him with the delivery. Then they both were out of sight and all I could see was the blue sheet that built a barrier between my face and the place my baby boy was nestled. 

I was too exhausted from all the pain medication to keep my eyes opened. I just laid there with my eyes closed. Listening. Doctors were chatting back and forth. Clanging of medical tools that would soon free my baby boy from his warm home inside me. And then Jordan was at my side, kissing me on the forehead. And with him came a sense of peace that I didn't know I needed. I no longer felt alone in a cold, sterile room full of strangers.  

The only thing I feared in those moments was being cut open. Three laparoscopic surgeries prior to this and I didn't want to endure another surgical procedure. I didn't want that recovery. But within minutes, it was the silence I would fear the most. 

I've seen plenty of "A Baby Story" episodes on tv; plenty of cesarean births. Doctors cut. They reach in. They pull out baby. Voila! Never have I seen them have to use much force to extract a baby. 

As the doctors started the process with me, everything felt alright. They were cutting me open. Jordan and Jim were by my head. And I waited to hear that first cry and see his slimy little body as they held him over the sheet. But then I felt my body being shoved and pushed on. With force. A lot of force. For what felt like several minutes. I hadn't seen this on tv. Is this normal? I laid there without a sound. I never said a word. Until my body was once again still. 

"Is he out?"

"Yes, he's out."


I think the dads aren't supposed to stand up and look over the blue sheet. But Jordan stood up. He looked. He saw several nurses standing around the tiny body of my baby boy. He saw one nurse doing chest compressions on his lifeless body. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Again. 

He whispers in my ear, "Baby, we've gotta pray. Just pray." 

My first thoughts were that his lungs weren't fully developed. It's the last thing to develop in baby boys. We were three weeks and two days early. I had no idea he had no heartbeat. All of those details came later. So my focus was on his lungs. His breathing. 

I only remember these words replaying through my mind, "God, You breathe life. In You we live and move and have our being. You give life." Over and over and over. 

Other details that came later...Jim had left my side to check on Pierce. Jordan asked him when he came back if he was breathing. All he would reply is that there was an excellent team of nurses working on our son. 

That's when Jordan knew things didn't look good. He, being the incredible protector of my heart that he is, immediately, began to think of how he would take care of me if Pierce didn't pull through. 

I'd had that "what if" moment in the waiting. But I wouldn't allow my heart to go there. I held on to the hope of hearing a good report. And I may have been too drugged up for my emotions to get the better of me. I trusted that God's will would be accomplished and I had to be ok with whatever that was. That's not an easy destination to arrive at when it involves the life of your baby. But I had done nothing to deserve him. God sees all things and knows all things. When you KNOW HIM, you can trust Him and His ways. 

Jordan and I never spoke to each other in those moments of silence. As we waited for someone to tell us what was happening, he stroked the top of my head and I could hear his whispered prayers. 

Within 10 to 15 minutes, I guess, we were being informed that Pierce did not have a heartbeat nor was he breathing when he came out. The doctors had pulled out the lower half of his body and then my uterus contracted which pinned Pierce's upper half in the womb. That's when the two grown men who have been delivering babies for many, many, many years began the forceful pushing and shoving. It was the only way they could try to get him unstuck. They also had to cut my uterus upwards in a "T" shape. They said in all their years of delivering babies, they'd never seen the uterus contract after being cut open nor had they ever had a baby stuck like he was. 

They weren't sure how long he had been compromised. One nurse told Jordan it was at least a minute and a half. They had to intubate him and bag him to pump oxygen into his lungs. It was a few minutes before he was stable enough to be transferred to the NICU. 

The doctor told us they were taking him to the NICU and I could read Jordan's facial expression and knew he was torn between leaving me and going with him. I told him to go. I needed him to be with our baby. I needed someone to be with him, praying for him and knowing what was happening. 

As they were rolling the isolette with my sweet baby boy out of the room, they paused for a few seconds for me to see him. I can't even remember seeing the bag taped over his mouth. I only remember checking to see if he had hair. And being so thrilled that there appeared to be a lot of hair. Silly in retrospect. But he was beautiful and I'm thankful I didn't notice anything else for those images may have left me with fear.

So, I was alone again. And my mind raced with so many things. How exhausted I was. How long would Pierce have to stay in the hospital? Would I have to go home while he remained in the NICU? What long term effects would any of this have on him? Worry began creeping in. And The Lord knew. And the silence that surrounded me was broken when Jim began to stroke the top of my head and gently say, "You and your husband are doing an amazing job.  For everything you've both just went through, you've done great." In my life, I've had a few moments of experiencing the supernatural peace and presence of the Lord.  But I've never experienced it as strongly as I did in those moments with Jim by my side.  He was an angel sent straight from Heaven to me that night.  I know he was a believer and I know he was praying for us and for Pierce while his hands rested on my shoulders.  I could feel it.  

I've often wondered what my response would be if Jesus stood before me.  I've always imagined I would be on my face but I think that's what I've felt should be the natural response.  Now, I KNOW I would be on my face but not because its expected.  It would be because of the overwhelming gratitude and humility that comes as a result of all He's done for me and in me that I was so undeserving of.

That night, in a cold hospital operating room, a battle was being fought for the life of my son.  My God arose the victor.  Oh hell, where is your victory?  Death, where is your sting?  It was GOD who breathed life into Pierce's lungs.  It was GOD who gave him life.  I don't know the full extent of God's plan for my son.  But I do know it must be pretty amazing for the devil to put up such a fight.  And I'm thankful.  Humbled.  Grateful.  Undeserving.  I've watched one of my best friends say goodbye to her son after 15 days of fighting for his life in the NICU.  God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts and I have to be thankful that He knows all and sees all and everything He does is for our best because if I didn't, I'd struggle to enjoy the life of my son while grieving for the life that is no longer here with us.  And I still have a difficult time with it and wonder, "Why God?  Why?"  But I choose to trust His plan and must surely believe that sweet Harrison's 15 days with us will make as much of an impact on the Kingdom of Heaven as Pierce will in the time God blesses us with him here on earth.  And that brings me peace.

And today, as I reflect back on the night of June 15th, that changed me in more ways than I've even had time to process, I'm thankful that God had His own plan and timing for Pierce's arrival.  My doctor is a woman and it took 2 strong, grown men to pull Pierce from the womb.  If my doctor had been on call, would the outcome have been the same?  If it had been any other night, would Jim have still been my anesthesiologist?  So much could have been so different.  But God....

Pierce spent only 6 days in the NICU before he was released to go home.  Every single challenge he had to overcome to be able to go home, he met with ease.  He's a fighter.  Strong.  Every NICU nurse commented on how strong he was.  Oh, how well I know! :o)

I'll never forget those 6 days.  I can replay so many of the moments over and over in my mind as if I were watching a movie scene on repeat.  Everything within me would love to see Jim again.  Face to face.  To hug him.  Embrace him.  Weep and thank him for being Jesus to me as I lay there in my fears and uncertainties.  Alone.  And I remember, he was merely the man that my God ordered to be there that night because He knew.  He knew I would need a tangible representation of HIM in the room that night.  My God, You are faithful.  So faithful.  And when I see HIM face to face, I will embrace HIM, weep at HIS feet and PRAISE HIM for who HE is and ALL HE has done.

May our lives always bring YOU glory and honor.  May we steward the lives of these amazing gifts well and may they KNOW YOU, SERVE YOU and LOVE YOU all the days of their lives.  I pray You make their hearts Your home and may Your kingdom grow as a result of their lives being fully surrendered to You.  Thank You for choosing us to be their parents and may we ALWAYS trust Your plan for our lives and theirs.

And today, happy 3 months old Pierce.  We could not imagine our lives without you.  We love you sweet boy.


Below are some of the pictures that were taken on our iPhones the day of and days that followed his birth.

(36 weeks 5 days)

(just before walking out the door to go to the hospital)


(so thankful Jordan snapped this picture so we could always remember)

(Ava hopped on as we were being wheeled to the NICU to see Pierce)

(our first family picture - he was already breathing on his own by the time we got there!!)

(our sweet miracle)

(7 pounds 14 ounces 21 inches long 9:22pm)

(See all that cute hair?!)

(holding him for the first time)

(Ava holding her baby brother for the first time. She was so excited!)

(the 3 loves in my life)

(his NICU room #)

(just before being released!)
(headed home!!!)

(best friends already!)

(such a sweet, kissable face)


  1. This is a beautiful testimony. Thank you so much for sharing. In His perfect timing, God knew I needed to read this. Bless you and your family ♥