Stephanie's Story: A crazy birth story...

The journey of life, especially the journey of a disciple, is marked with potholes and patches, demolitions and new construction...all ordained editing marks of a God who loves hardcore. Through that love, and because of it, He has been graciously hacking away and shaping me into someone who hopefully resembles His Son increasingly more each day.

This first year of my son Keegan's life has been an incredible time of "editing" for me. Coming up to his birthday, I've had an increasing desire to get the story and my thoughts out. I've learned to not ignore those times, as they don't happen often and it's regretted if I don't get it all out.

So, here it goes...


Happy birthday, Keegan Isaac "Stanley" Brooks.

I truly cannot believe it has been a year since he surprised us all and arrived five weeks before expected. As his birthday has gotten closer, I've been caught off guard with how supremely emotional I get thinking about him, the journey his first year has been, and how life is so fast.

I have so many incredibly clear and distinct memories with Keegan. Many moments are still so fresh and real, it stings my eyes even now, recalling them.

It was right around 6am on a Wednesday, the week after Mother's Day. I was nearly 9 months pregnant and really feeling it. Dave was already at work, and I was dressed and ready for the day, resting on my made bed waiting for Stella to get up. I was on my left side a bit and started feeling a lot of pressure, as I could feel the baby changing position. That far along, any kind of major movement can be uncomfortable, but this was like he was doing a headstand on my pelvis. I was forced to move with him, in order to get through the discomfort. Then I felt/heard a weird little pop and almost immediately the pain subsided. I didn't think much of it, because pops and cracks and snaps are par for the course.

A couple minutes later, I got up to go pee (of course) and I felt a little something. At first, I thought I had just waited too long to go and was paying for it, but after a couple more steps, it was getting worse and I realized it wasn't normal. I reached down to feel how bad it was and when my hand came back up, I found not a clear liquid on it, but red. I awkwardly waddled quickly the rest of the way to the bathroom and when I sat down it was like red Niagara Falls. I started to freak out a bit and a few tears were falling, as I assessed what looked like some gruesome murder scene in my bathroom. Then, I heard Stella start calling for me to come get her out of bed.

Waiting in Hospital

After a flurry of phone calls, dropoffs, and pickups, I found myself in a hospital bed with me and the baby being monitored. It was sometime in the 8 o'clock hour, I think. Stats were good, but I was still bleeding and contractions had started. Nurses and doctors couldn't tell the cause of bleeding at that point (it was placental abruption), so it was kind of a waiting long as the baby and I were still tolerating everything well.

I was still thinking that I might be going home soon, or that we would have the baby naturally, since everything seemed okay. But after checking me one more time, the nurse and doctor just didn't like the amount I was bleeding and didn't see any signs of it stopping, so the dreaded "c" word (no, not that one...) was uttered. Off to the emergency operating room we went.

There wasn't even time to pray beforehand, give good hugs and kisses to my parents, or even comprehend that we were going to HAVE A BABY IN A FEW MINUTES. Or, that it was five weeks earlier than it should have been. That all this was kind of serious. That c-sections are major operations. That we were in no way prepared for anything like we were with Stella. That we didn't have a second carseat in the car. That our son did not have a name yet.

The way I remember the operating room and getting prepped for surgery, it seems like I had my eyes closed the whole time. I just remember blackness and hearing all of the directions and commands and assurances. The worst part was when I was lying down with my arms stretched all the way out to each side and I had the most insane nausea I've ever had in my life. No exaggeration, I had thoughts that I was dying and would be gone in the next couple minutes, if that feeling kept on. It was like all my blood was leaving my body, and in fact, it was. I somehow got the words out of my mouth that I was not feeling good at all. The nurse by my head said that it was normal after the meds they had just given me, so she quickly put something in my IV and I almost instantly started feeling better. Thank. God.

Dave could finally come into the room. The surgery went very quickly. I heard our son's cry. We cried. But I wasn't shown my son's face...or any part of his body. Dave left to follow the nurses into another room, so he could take pictures and video. I was left alone with the "cleanup crew," wondering how long it would be before I got to SEE my son and HOLD him. It was 24 hours before I did.

It wrenches my heart to this day. I don't normally get hung up on little things, but this still gets to me sometimes. The nurses and doctors weren't exactly forthcoming about the severity of my circumstances, which I assume is to prevent any unnecessary stress or freakout on my part, as I was healing and recovering. However, they could have at least given an explanation for why it was important that I not get up from my hospital bed for at least a day. It took me three days to gather the tidbits I heard from the nurses, doctors, and family members that I had lost half of my blood. Half. Of course, I couldn't just hop out of bed and see my son in the NICU. And that explained why all the nurses gave me this look all the time and treated me like I was going to die, but didn't, or something. Ha. And why they were so happy and surprised when they saw me recovering so quickly and walking down the halls on my own...although very slowly.

Meeting Keegan

The moment I held my son for the first time and looked at his precious, precious face was...

I don't even know which word to use. It's crazy to think God feels the same way (times infinity) looking down at each of us, His creation. As we were adoring, Dave and I remembered that our son still did not have a name.

Dave and I had the middle name picked out for a few months. Isaac can be interpreted as "He laughs," from the name Abraham and Sarah gave their miracle son in the Bible. Sarah didn't believe God's promise that her barren womb would give birth. She laughed at God. But He is ever faithful, the baby boy was born, and Abraham and Sarah aptly named him "He laughs." I love the lessons provided in that story, but I also love the meaning of the name, since Dave is such a goof. We hope our son follows suit.

We had a short list of first names, with two that we were really thinking of. We knew that when I held him, one of them would feel right. It was so easy, once I met him. It was Keegan. Our little "fiery one," the early bird who came out swinging.

Oh, and this. You may have noticed at the beginning that Keegan has an undocumented second middle name. While I was in my hospital room waiting around to see my baby, my sister told me that our boss had just lost his father that morning. This was not unexpected. He had been sick and in hospice for some time. He was essentially in a coma and had been going on more than 7 days of no food or water. His time to leave was Keegan's time to arrive. This is when I get weepy again. It's so devastatingly beautiful - when the circle of life and death is demonstrated so clearly and in your face like that. How, at any given moment, millions of us are experiencing crazy life changes. We are all the same. I'm so thankful for moments like that, and the reminder of God's timing, plan, and faithfulness. My boss' father's name was Stanley. And Stanley will forever be a part of Keegan and our family.

There have been many more powerful moments in the past 12 months like the ones I've detailed here. Keegan was in the NICU for the first week of his life. I went back and forth from home to hospital all hours of the day and night to feed him and be with him. It was insane. So were the seven months of health struggles for him, combined with all other "life things."

I am ahhhhhhmazed at the strength within me that was helpful in carrying me and my family through. But it's not of my own accord! I am ever thankful that God's grace is sufficient for me. That when I was at the bottom of the barrel and had nothing left in me, the Spirit had all the room to consume me. This past year is a perfect example of why this verse has always resonated with me:

Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice.Psalm 51:8

I truly understand now how good and sweet persevering through difficult times is for the soul, if you know Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, for emptying me to fill me again.Now, let's see what Keegan's second year has in store! 

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