On Monday, December 5, I was working hard to finish all of my grading for the semester. I published my final grade, and 30 minutes later, I started noticing that the contractions I was feeling had some regularity to them. I pulled up my pregnancy tracking app and started to time them, just for posterity’s sake.
At my last appointment, I was dilated between 1cm – 2cm and was 70% effaced. She was in the perfect position, and her head was “right there” at the top of my cervix. I was still just shy of two weeks from my due date, and though I longed for her to come early, I wasn’t really ready logistically. The contractions kept coming and began to be a little closer together. They were coming every 4-6 minutes apart for about half an hour before I texted our Doula. She suggested I make my way home where I’d be most comfortable and able to relax.
I made my last slow walk up the big hill from my office to the parking deck and called Josh. I told him what was going on and what Jessica (the Doula) had said about me coming home. He joined me there shortly. The contractions were painful and very unpleasant. I came home and packed a few things in my hospital bag and kept my mom posted about the contractions. She was working in Missouri and hadn’t planned on coming until Dec 15th. The contractions were coming closer together, about every 3 – 5 minutes. They had been rolling for about 5 hours by the time I decided to get in the bathtub. We let a small group of close friends know what was going on and settled in for the long haul.
Something strange happened in the bathtub around the 90 minutes in the tub mark. I was able to relax, and the contractions slowed down. They slowed down so significantly that I stopped timing them and focused on trying to rest. Josh was rushing around the house packing her bag of clothes and his because we all knew where this road leads…to the hospital! I remember him picking out about ten outfits because we weren’t sure what we wanted her to come home in. There was also a funny moment where he was trying to identify which socks to bring for her. “How am I supposed to know which size is for which age? These are WAY too big. These are too small…” In the end, he put a whole handful in and moved on to the next task.
My mom made the final call to end her trip early and was scheduled to arrive in Athens by early the following afternoon. Our Doula arrived at the house and set up camp. She was wonderful! She helped with anything we needed including learning how to adjust things on the car seat! Her help gave Josh peace of mind enough to run out and pick up some food/supplies that we wanted for our laboring including some King’s Hawaiian rolls, chicken soup and blow pops. He also picked up a couple of bags of firewood because I knew that I wanted to be able to have a fire in our fireplace to watch and focus on during the contractions. Labor continued but went off and on during that night, I labored and rested and took naps on the couch. Josh took naps on the couch too and ultimately went to sleep in the bed around 2 am. Jessica stayed up and ready at a moment’s notice to help encourage and coach me. Around 5 am, I told Jessica that I planned to just go to bed since things were still on and half. We agreed she should head home. I promised to text her and let her know if anything changed.
I woke up at around 7:30 am on Tuesday, December 6, huffed around the house, put on my walking shoes and walked up and down my street. I was partly crying, partly texting and calling the few friends who knew what was going on. I had never heard about this happening where things were rolling along so much like they should and then came to an abrupt halt. I had more contractions mid morning and texted my boss to tell him that I wasn’t going to make it to the faculty meetings because I was having a baby! Little did I know, she wouldn’t be arriving until ten days later.
We had a baby! I’ll hopefully be sharing more about her birth story as I have time to piece it together. I’m happy to introduce her to this blog and to share a little bit about her name.
If you’ve known me (Sabrena) for a while, you may have known my beautiful grandmother Beatrice Carter. We always called her Grandma Bea. She was my father’s mother and one of the most gentle, loving and faithful women I’ve ever encountered. She loved her family well. She trusted and loved Jesus even in the face of immensely challenging circumstances. The summer after Josh and I were first married, she left all suffering here and went to be with the Lord. We chose to name our baby Beatrice in honor of her great-grandmother.
One of the things we loved about choosing Beatrice as her first name was that it gave us the opportunity to honor another beloved family matriarch at the same time. Josh’s Memaw, his mother’s mother, is named Betty. As it turns out, Betty is sometimes used as a nickname for women named Beatrice (mostly in Latin countries but whatever). Memaw is one of the sweetest, most generous, and patient women you can imagine. She too has faced painful and heartbreaking days but still carries the sweet joy of knowing God’s goodness deep in her heart. We chose Beatrice because it gives us the flexibility to also call her Betty. We cherished being able to introduce our baby Betty to the grown up Betty on Christmas day.
Beatrice’s middle name is also connected to more family members! Lynne is a triple connection to the Carter side. My sister’s middle name is Lynn(without an e), my mother’s name is Linda (but my dad only calls her Lin) and my dad’s given middle name was Lynn. We left it up to the Boo Boo (sister Rebecca) how to spell it and she chose Lynne. It makes me think of Anne with an e and I kind of like that part too.
So, what do we call her? We call her all kinds of things. While we awaited her arrival, we most commonly called her BeBea. We pronounced this like bee bee but spell it in a way that would represent both of the women above. We sometimes call her Baby Betty, Bea, Beatrice and Nana (our favorite team tiny human tag team partner) calls her Nugget.
We can hardly believe that she’s here and are working on getting used to being responsible for a very beautiful, needy little love bug.
I once sat across from new friends and asked what they used to do before they had children. It took them several moments to respond. I’ve thought about that and wanted to write down a few things to reflect on if/when that moment comes around and we’re on the other end!
Things we did before we had any children…
Traveled – a lot!
Saw movies the weekend they opened (mostly Marvel movies)
Wandered around Target
Went out for drinks and dessert
Had TV show marathons
Stayed up pretty late and slept in pretty late
Stayed in bed snuggling with Charlie
Took really long baths (S)
Ready entire books in a matter of hours (S)
Browsed a lot of discount stores (J)
Watched wrestling shows live (J)
Slowly got ready in the mornings
Left the dishes until the next day
Went to the dog park about once a week or more
Went on walks at the UGA intramural fields
I’m sure there are more and that not all of them will change but it’s a nice little reminder nonetheless.
How Far Along: 34 Weeks (as of tomorrow)
Size of baby: Pineapple
Total Weight Gain/Loss: 23 lbs
Maternity Clothes: Because Georgia weather is struggling, I have maintained most of my summer wardrobe. We hit mid 80’s three days last week. I am looking forward to snuggling in some long sleeve shirts/sweaters that I’ve been collecting. I’m glad that I only have three weeks of work left because then I won’t have to worry as much about what I’m wearing, lol.
Gender: She’s a girl!
Movement: This girl loves loud noises and music! She does a lot of wiggling, and I imagine it to look like pop and locking in the womb (youtube that if you aren’t familiar). Josh enjoys feeling her and is usually surprised at how strong the feelings are! She moves most around 2 pm – 6:30 pm and is very quiet in the mornings. I would be okay if things stayed that way.
Sleep: I am waking up between 2 and 3 times a night to go to the bathroom. I’m aware when it’s happening but I usually fall back asleep easily. We went camping last weekend, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be with this factor! We did haul our double height queen size air mattress into our 4 man tent. It was definitely worth it. Occasionally, I will have a hard time going back to sleep and will stay up for another 45 minutes.
Miss anything? I miss laying on my stomach. I miss my shoes (none of them fit anymore because I have the slightest bit of swelling). I miss mixed drinks.
Cravings: We have been all about bread lately! I could eat my weight in donuts and croissants.
Symptoms: I’ve had to take off my rings because my fingers were swelling. I’ve also given up on all shoes except my chacos for the same reason. My legs will ache a lot if I don’t rest enough. Nothing too bad, though. My SI joint will sometimes get a little out of whack if I am not careful about moving around every so often.
Looking forward to: Seeing her face for the first time.
Best Moment this week: Being thrown a baby shower! It was incredible to be supported and surrounded by women from this community (and the one I was able to have in Lynchburg) who gave so generously to celebrate this life!
Labor signs: Definitely feeling my muscles loosening, feeling more pressure in my hips!
I just got a Facetime call from our Janie and Jordan. It’s not unusual for them to call, though it has happened less frequently since school started. What was unusual is that it was Jordan calling. I hadn’t spoken with him since August. He shared with me the most exciting news…Mom has moved back home! He told me with pride and a big toothless grin (he’s lost two teeth since he lived here). After five months of separation and supervised visits, she’s back with her children.
He handed his phone to his mom who was a completely transformed person. When I had seen her last, she seemed like a shell of a woman. Devoid of smile or personality. She seemed lost, alone, and hopeless. This version of mom smiled and told me how Jordan asked specifically if he could call his Foster Mom because it had, “been too long” since he’d talked to me. She thanked me for loving her children well and for taking such good care of them. She asked how I was feeling with the baby and told me that she hopes many good things come to our family. I got to tell her how happy I am that she can return home to them and to affirm how wonderful her kids are and how much we loved being able to be a part of their lives.
When Janie and Jordan went home, I mourned the loss of my title as a Foster Mom. It had quickly become such an important mantle to me. The fact that Jordan still calls me his Foster Mom (Janie refers to us as Sabrena and Josh) is so sweet to my heart. Having any lasting role in their lives is an absolute privilege.
These conversations are unusual in the larger scheme of foster care. The fact that we stay in touch with our foster kids, that their parents support this contact, is unusual. The fact that older children have a positive association with us and care to continue to talk to us even though a desire to completely “erase” this period of their life would be developmentally normal, is unusual. It’s the work of Jesus, and there isn’t anything else that can be said about it. When lightness shines into the dark and warmth spreads were desperation lives, it’s the transformative power of the gospel. Jesus died to bring this warmth. He offers it to me freely. I am so grateful for his gift and so humbled that our family can be used to share this light with others.
Janie and Jordan’s family is still not completely reunited. Baby brother has not been returned to his family. I have no new information about this, but I can tell you that they feel his absence every day. I can tell you that it has to be a heavy burden on mom and dad to be home together but not completely reunited. Will you continue to pray with me for this family? Pray that their case would not be bogged down in logistical difficulties. Pray that they would be able to continue to work their case plan and that things would not be slowed down arbitrarily. Thank you for sharing this burden with us over these past months!
How Far Along: 25 Weeks (as of today, no current picture)
Size of baby: Acorn Squash
Total Weight Gain/Loss: 15 lbs
Maternity Clothes: It’s more challenging to dress for work in a limited wardrobe! Hoping to get some staples for my wardrobe tomorrow but have been enjoying getting things from the maternity section of SWAP.com
Gender: She’s a girl!
Movement: We have a ton of movement now! She is especially active in the evenings or when she’s feeling squished. Josh still hasn’t felt her externally yet but I’m looking forward to that.
Sleep: I usually wake up once per night but it’s like sleep walking. I’m getting an average of 9 glorious hours per night and I’m completely aware of how awesome this is!
Miss anything? I miss doing regular yoga. I also miss wearing my cute shoes. My feet hurt so badly that I have to wear tennis shoes all the time, even to work. It’s pretty humbling.
Cravings: I like Tonight Dough from Ben and Jerry’s a lot.
Symptoms: I tire much more quickly than I used to and it takes much longer to recover when I over do it. My hair is much less oily than it used to be! My feet hurt when I wear regular shoes.
Looking forward to: Having Josh be able to feel her kicking!
Best Moment this week: Hosting people for Josh’s birthday.
Labor signs: None, thank goodness!
Josh and I weren’t in agreement about whether we wanted to find out baby’s sex. I thought it might be fun to wait and see when we met the baby. He wanted to know right away. I agreed, after a while, that it would be good to know. Then I waffled on when I wanted to find out and how to let others know. Then about who would get to know and who would need to wait. These are big moments, moments that I had held in my heart for a long time while I dreamed of having a baby of our own.
In the end, we found out together at the Doctor’s office on August 2nd, at 20 weeks. It was strange because we weren’t sure if we understood the technician correctly. At the end of the appointment, we tried to verify, and she said she was 90% sure that the baby was a girl. We were both very surprised because we were just SURE that the baby was a boy.
We went directly to Carter’s and bought the most precious baby girl things you can picture. It was funny to see what styles we picked out separately! We wrapped those items and took them to lunch where we shared the news with Josh’s side of the family.
Later that evening we told my family via a google hang out! It was perfectly full of accidental admissions and technical difficulties.
Then we had tons of fun telling friends via a private Facebook live video. We created a secret group and invited the same friends (from all over the world!) that we would have wanted at a gender reveal “party.” I was a little nervous that our friends would find it cheesy or strange, but I think everyone had fun! We asked people to take photos of themselves and whomever they were watching with. It was so joyful. I think that’s the thing I’ve been most surprised by, how excited others have been to celebrate WITH us!
About a week later, after telling some more sweet friends in person, we released a video that we’d taken with those same friends! It felt like a wonderful way to let others in on the secret.
In the end, I’m so glad we found out and that we shared it in stages. Knowing she’s in there, calling her by name (that will remain an internet secret until she arrives). Collecting little treasures for her room, these things are moments we’re holding tightly to as we prepare for her arrival.