Saturday, October 2, 2010

Annalyse Joy

** Picture overload! You have been warned.**

Psalm 126:3 "The Lord has done great things, and we are filled with JOY..."

Most of you know by now, Baby Girl has arrived! Today she is five days old and the cutest thing to have entered God's green earth. I'll back up and give a quick story of how things played out - because, despite being a scheduled c-section, Baby Girl had other plans.

Last week I'd experienced a lot of contractions - nothing regular or worth timing though. Just a small sign that things were starting to progress and that the end was (finally!) near.

Sunday I started to feel quite nauseas and had contractions throughout most of the day. I'm pretty sure that a friend who showed up on my doorstep Sunday evening with a glider and ottoman for me (totally unexpected) may have been the culminating factor that put me into labor!

Around 4:00 Monday morning, contractions were strong enough to wake me up from a peaceful sleep. (Ha! Is there such a thing as peaceful sleep when you're nine months large and using the bathroom every hour?) I got up and walked around the house, doing what I could to change positions and get comfortable.

By 6:30 am contractions were very regular so I decided to take a hot shower and get some relief. Grady walked into the bathroom wondering what I was doing - I never get up before his alarm and shower. I told him he should probably pack his bag and get us ready to head to the hospital soon... Baby Girl was likely coming a day early!

At 7:00 am Grady began timing things and contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, lasting 40-50 seconds each. I called the doctor and he said, "So why aren't you here yet? You need to leave now."

Grady instructed the boys to eat as fast as they could - something they thought was pretty cool since we're usually telling them to slow down and put only one bite in their mouth at a time.

Grady Lee kept asking if "our baby sister was coming out now?" and "how will she come out at home if the doctor isn't here to cut your stomach and get her?" I was running out of breath and frantically looking for childcare help so I didn't give him the answers he wanted. Grady was too busy packing and trying to help me that he wasn't paying attention to Grady Lee's questions. Looking back on it now, the poor kid got quite the shaft from both his parents during what was, to him, a scary time.

My friend Juli stepped up big time and agreed to watch the boys for the day until my parents arrived. And, even better, she agreed to meet us at the hospital so we could just focus on getting there rather than dropping my boys off at her house.

While en-route to the hospital, contractions picked up a lot. By the time we arrived to the hospital, at 8:45 am, I was in tears and my pants were down because anything touching my waist was painful. Juli's husband Brian met us at the curb and took the boys while Grady whisked me in to the hospital.

The great team at Pineville CMC met us at the door with name tags already prepared and showed us to our room. The nurses wasted no time prepping me for surgery and after a flurry of activity I was wheeled into the OR.

I have to admit, since I didn't experience labor with Micah, I was terribly scared the entire time thinking that this delivery was going to mimic Grady Lee's, and that things were going to get chaotic and scary and difficult at any second. But, because God has all things under his control, that never happened.

At 9:48 am Annalyse Joy entered the world and Grady and I were overwhelmed with love and devotion and admiration and awe all in the same moment. She was here. She was safe. She was healthy. She was beautiful. She was ours.

For the first time, I didn't vomit during delivery. And, for the first time, our baby was born without complications and we could hold and kiss her right away, rather than visit her in the NICU. Praise God for these wonderful answers to our prayers!

Annalyse Joy weighed in at 7.2 pounds, was 19 inches long, and modeled little bits of black hair. She's our smallest little one - and also our highest pitched crier. She has made her lungs known from the start and it's as girly of a cry as you can imagine.

It was only a matter of seconds before Annalyse had herself wrapped around her Daddy's finger - a place I know she'll keep forever.

Later that day, the nurses gave her a bath and lots of loving attention while I waited to get feeling back in my body again. When a nurse brought her back to us she declared, "It's official: she is definitely cute and a total sweetheart!"

Grady called and reached my parents who had left Michigan at 4:30 am that morning to come to Charlotte. They were surprised but excited to hear our Baby Girl was here, and I'm pretty sure my Dad stepped up the speed so they could get to the hospital ASAP.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that she came one day early... my Mom had once again missed the chance to see me in the ninth month of pregnancy. Not a huge deal, but something special I know she'd like to see. Maybe next time...

It goes without saying that they both cried the moment they saw her. Smitten. Forever smitten.

Once my parents arrived, Brian and Juli came with our boys. Grady Lee and Micah weren't sure what to do first: run and hug Grandpa and Grandma, see their new baby sister, or check on Mom and see her "great big owie where the baby came out."

(I think I'll need to do a separate post just about Brian and Juli. The gifts, the time, the love, and the support they have given our family these last couple of weeks has been nothing less than a taste of God's great love. They have gone above and beyond in doing all they can to meet our needs... friends like this are a very rare find. Truly a gift!)

Grady Lee couldn't stop kissing Annalyse. "She is the cutest baby sister, isn't she Mom? I wuv her!"

Micah was excited to touch and hold her, though he was quiet for the most part. He was content to just observe and look at her, not quite sure what to think.

This is how Grady camped out for most of our hospital stay: holding his Sweetie while surfing the Web. I think they're watching the Passion 2011 Live Link right now and he's excitedly telling her all about the great speakers and worship that's to come. (Never to early to introduce Jesus, right?)

I love pictures of our kids being held in Grady's big hands. Such a visual of how tiny and innocent and vulnerable they are and how big and protective and caring their Daddy is.

The boys were thrilled to open presents that Annalyse "bought" for them. They were just as excited to open presents that they "bought" for her. Unfortunately, they didn't understand why she wouldn't immediately reach out and hug the lamb and puppy dog they gave her. No problem - they simply put them on her head and tummy instead.

I have a select few memories of pure joy and bliss with my family. Holding my Baby Girl and introducing her to her brothers is one of them. Words cannot describe the emotion and the moment.

Grandpa had his taste of heaven on earth by holding his new little Sweetie. He has longed for a little girl to love and hold ever since I got married. There is not a better Grandpa out there to treat little girls with tenderness and respect.

We had a steady stream of visitors during our time in the hospital, which was great since we were there for almost four days. That is a lloonngg time to be in one room. Being that I had lots of meds running in my system and that Grady took some time to step away each afternoon, I forgot to take pics of everyone that stopped by. Oops. A big thank you for the visits, flowers, and chocolates!

Grady took his diaper-changing role very seriously. "It's a whole new ball game with a little girl, Sarah," he would say. I was happy for his help and enjoyed watching him get prepped and ready for each change. He even approaches a diaper change with careful analytical thinking. He may deny it, but he's an accountant deep inside.

Grandma and Grandpa made sure to stop by with the boys for a few minutes everyday so they could get to know their baby sister. Micah was mostly interested in coming to my bed and asking to see my "big owie where our sister came out." He was also very concerned that I didn't have a Cars or Curious George Band-Aid on.

I think the best line of any visit came from Micah. "You'll be a fun Mommy again soon when your owie is all better." Yikes... the trauma I must have put my boys through these last few months of being lazy and pregnant.

Have you seen anything more precious? What a miracle. What a gift. Love unspeakable.

A doting Grandpa...

... a happy Grandma...

... and three very blessed grandkids!

A tired and sore, but very content Mom. A wonderfully proud Dad. Two squirmy and happy big brothers.

Thursday morning rolled around and I was very ready to head home. Helpful nurses and quiet rest for three days were nice, but my own bed and surroundings were calling my name.

Annalyse looked cute as can be in pink and flowers and bows... and I still couldn't believe I was going home with a baby GIRL. A girl!

Grady Lee and Micah, with the help of Grandma, had a special greeting for their little sister.

So, here we are, just five days into this new journey with three kids ages four and under. Things are "easy" now cause Grandpa and Grandma are here to help and Nana comes next week to help. Real life will start later this month. For now, though, I'm happy for pain medicine and loving family that's willing to travel across the country to care for the boys and keep my house in order.

Psalm 126:3 "The Lord has done great things, and we are filled with JOY..."


  1. awww, that is one of the sweestest post above all other sweet posts. :-) big Congrats!!! so happy & excited for you, and now i'm looking forward to see updated posts & pictures of this sweest beautiful bundle of yours as she joins her two active and loving big brothers. :-)

  2. Sarah,
    Love reading the story of Annalyse - will you call her Anna (ahna)? Missing you at homecoming, but obviously great reason not to travel! Love you bunches and can't wait to hold that precious baby - maybe some time!!!

  3. Sarah--what a precious precious blog!!! I loved all the pictures of this angel! Sweet memories of the boys meeting her. praise the LORD! I am praying for your recovery and hope things heal quickly!

  4. So precious! I love this post and all the pictures. Thanks for sharing. Praying the transition continues to go well. Hugs!!

  5. Awe! I've been checking and waiting for this post all week! So sweet. Tears welling up in my eyes for such a sweet, precious, beautiful gift of a baby girl! Praying you continue to recover and for a smooth transition for everyone! It will take some getting used to to see you pictured as a family of five...I need to meet her!!! :)

  6. Crying buckets over here! What a wonderfully perfect & sweet post! I can't WAIT to hold that precious baby girl! All of the pictures are wonderful & SOOOO precious! Those first meetings with the big siblings are always such special times & I love how the kids are always so tender & inquisitive! But I think my favorite picture is of you, Grady & Annalyse when she is in the carseat getting ready to leave the hospital...she looks so tiny & precious in pink &!!!
    {{{{{{{{{{huge hugs}}}}}}}}}}

  7. The most beautiful pictures ever. She is perfect! The Vail family cannot wait to meet her. Heather said she's as beautiful as her mommy. Did we expect anything else? Not one bit!!! Can't wait to bring you a meal along with my homemade apple bread. Oh, and definitely something chocolate. Annalyse will definitely want chocolate :) We love you!

  8. What a blessing!! Enjoy these precious days. : )

  9. congratulations! She is just precious, you're whole family is just precious. What a wonderful post, I loved reading it!

  10. Such a sweet,wonderful post! I pray you are recovering well and enjoying your mom's care. So happy for your family!!! I have tears in my eyes over all these precious pictures!! Blessings!!!