Two and a half years ago I remember seeing Scott laying on a bed hooked to machines keeping him alive. His arms were covered in sores & scars from needles; his whole body swollen beyond recognition. His stats were unstable, at best. We really weren’t sure of the future. I worked hard to avoid thinking beyond the moment. Except I couldn’t seem to avoid one thought: I want more babies with this man. He is the love of my life, and the best example I know for the sweet babes we have.
When God spared Scott’s life by providing sweet miracles & amazing professionals who worked long and hard on sustaining him, I was nervous about actually getting pregnant. The future was still so very unstable. Looking back, I suspect I should have reached out for some post traumatic stress help. I didn’t bring the subject of babies up with Scott, but just days after we got home, he told me he wanted more. Lots more. That life is short. Precious. And investing in the future in this way was more important than most of the ways we typically invest. I loved the way he was thinking, and that it aligned with where I was, despite my nervousness. We’d always said we wanted a hundred. So let’s!
After several months of trying with no success, I got discouraged. We’d never had to “try” before. I worried that perhaps the trauma on his body left us unable to conceive again. Thankfully, doctors all seemed to think that it shouldn’t be an issue, and were encouraging. Our close friends were praying for us, all of us hopeful that it be God’s will for us to have more babies. I researched fertility herbs and tried to get my body on track for a pregnancy.
At last, in November of 2015 we found out we were pregnant, only to end in a miscarriage. I have sweet memories of loving friends surrounding us in unexpected and loving ways, supporting us through the devastating loss. I struggled for longer than I expected to, and in more ways than I expected to. I captured my thoughts and reigned in my chaos, bit by bit, over time. The grief is still alive and real today, tho’ has changed significantly for a lot of reasons. Hormones subsided. Truth prevailed. Two months and one cycle after our miscarriage, we found ourselves pregnant again. This time, to stick.
It’s with great joy I share that earlier in October we welcomed a new little one into our family. We call him “Aury.” My pregnancy with him was easy other than pertussis. I felt great, all the way to the end. I had no heartburn, no stretch marks, no sore back or numb ribs/skin, loose joints, swollen toes… I made jokes that I may have a tumor instead of being pregnant since all was so symptom-free and smooth sailing. I had so much room and felt so small that I had no problem with going past our due date. I wanted to give him extra time to grow, as I had worried he felt smaller than others. To my happy surprise, he weighed 9lbs 2oz at birth – no petite/fragile baby for us! He’s our third largest. It always amuses me that we make mammoth children. Neither of us are very large. Sure, I ate well during pregnancy. So well that I gained little, and postpartum weight-loss has been awesome. I felt/feel instantly skinny. My belly shrunk quicker than usual. I’ve never felt so good immediately following a birth.
God has blessed us not only by giving us this beautiful prayed-for baby, but by giving me unexplainable ease during the pregnancy and recovery afterward. We both agree that it was our easiest birth. It was fast and drama-free. Everyone that was expected to the birth made it (I worried a lot about this for the months leading up to labor!). I never got to the delirious point of transition. We shared light heartedness through contractions all the way through pushing (other then a few times I needed reminded to relax and take deep breaths). When Aury’s head was birthed, I looked at one of the midwives and said: “We can do this again!”… Umm, we still had to do this one! Aury was so wiggly, all through labor. That was new to me. I could feel him kicking around, then later rotating and pushing off with his feet as he emerged. It was crazy and awesome. Birth is a beautiful thing.
Aury didn’t get his official name until he was a couple of days old. True to our nature, we just weren’t sure until the time was right. We had our trusty dry erase board full of ideas, daily erasing one or two, the kids putting marks next to their favorites. Writing out some first and middle name options, double checking for raunchy nicknames or acronyms… We landed on Powell Auryus for several reasons. Powell is a Lake that has a lot of special memories to us. It is where our little family began, really. It was one summer day that a cute boy in green shorts caught my eye. One thing led to another… Now here we are, days away from our 17 year anniversary. I’ve officially been with that handsome fellow more than half my life. I love that. Wanting to incorporate the hope that comes with this rainbow baby (birth after a miscarriage) of ours, it should be noted that the world’s largest known natural bridge, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, is in all of it’s glory at Lake Powell. A reminder of God’s mystery and great Creation… Of our family’s first beginnings; and consequently, new beginnings after life-threatening scares two years ago… And rainbows to remind us of God’s great promises and hope for the future… And I sorta dig that it’s the name of one of my favorite bookstores in Portland (a landmark, really).
Auryus comes with a little less meaning. It is derived from the latin name Aureus, meaning “golden.” Tho’ not favored as our golden child (ha!), we feel richly blessed by his arrival to our family. Since all three of the other boys go by their middle name right now (and all have coincidentally ended up with a “Y” in them), and despite my arguing that we didn’t need to make it tradition, we followed suit and call him Aury. His siblings are madly in love.
After his birth, one of the midwives noted Aury was both lip- and tongue-tied. Now, I’ve been on a soapbox more than once about how dumb I think this is. It’s a new trendy thing that everyone thinks their baby has. And people are literally having surgical procedures done on their newborns because of it. Ghastly. Well, I’ve once again been humbled by having to learn a hard lesson. After several days of very rough going with breastfeeding I realized my need for help. When I say “rough going,” it is a complete understatement. Engorgement beyond normal. Mastitis the day milk comes in leaving me feverish and delirious. Cracked, bleeding, swollen nipples. Knee-jerking, toe-curling, teeth-clenching ’til blood-in-mouth-tasting during latch. Me bawling my brains out most of the days. Psychologically preparing for what was coming at least 40 minutes before I’d let him even try to latch. Confused why I can’t figure this out. FAILURE screaming at me and my messy head. Heart breaking that I may need to give up breastfeeding. Emotional basketcase. Thankfully Aury is a sweet tempered little fellow and has been such a LOVE to remind me regularly that it’s all worth it, this trying to make it work despite seemingly impossible feat of unbearable pain and misery.
After the ties were adjusted we had a few encouraging nursing sessions, only to land us back to trouble by that night. So I bit the bullet and messaged a desperate cry for help to a lactation consultant, Amber. A gal who shared dozens of mutual friends with me that my midwives urged I should get to know because apparently we’re two peas in a pod. Amber came the next morning at 9am*. Oh man. I cry now when I even think of her beautiful face. She is the reason we’re doing well today. She encouraged me and showed me some techniques that would help Aury latch better. Instant improvement. Every day has been better than the last. Every day was a little more freeing. I remember the first day I wrapped him on me (the first time it didn’t hurt to have him on my chest) and we went outside – so healing, the outdoors. At Day 12 we left the house for the first time. A few days later we ventured even further into town, nursing for the first time out of the house. The first day I didn’t grimace when he latched: birds sang. It has literally taken me 9+ days to not have to remind myself that it won’t hurt when he’s ready to eat – that I don’t need to self-talk myself into getting started. It’s only just turned into a joyful time of bonding and eye-staring at each other with great pleasure instead of with the painful promise of perseverance (later, apologizes for failure).
I have a newfound sympathy for women who struggle with breastfeeding. It’s shockingly traumatic, as dramatic as that sounds. I feel so incredibly blessed to have the women in my life that have come alongside of me and supported me through this hard journey. Their love and compassion and their carrying my load when I couldn’t was a true picture of grace. I’m thankful for my Red Tent community. And even more so for our little man. The one who I had to let go of expectations for before I could nurse successfully. I’m so blessed to be his – and 4 other lovelies (+ two) – Mama. We are rich beyond measure.
*I later learned that just days before she came to our house she was in a terrible accident, and is still suffering immense physical pain. Yet she made herself completely (and swiftly!) available to us, no questions asked.