The previous Christmas I went home from my family’s home angry at the world, my family, at myself and my husband, and even at God…though I wasn’t sure I still believed. I was not a militant or hardcore Christian. I don’t go to church every Sunday but I knew what the Bible says and I knew what I sort of believed to be true.
But that Christmas…that was the breaking point for me. My husband and I had been together for five years. And for the last year, had been trying for a child.
It wasn’t happening, and it was mostly because of my body and the fact that we were on wildly conflicting work schedules.
But that year, my extended family welcomed 6 babies into my family and seeing these babies was highly upsetting for me. It felt like I had failed and that it wasn’t fair. My husband and I were older, more responsible, more financially stable, and more educated people. We had our own home to offer a child and we could easily support one.
Yet we could not make one.
I went home that night and straight to bed, upset and hurting. I remember praying that God give us a child before the next Christmas. Praying harder for that than anything I’d ever prayed for before…and not truly believing it would happen.
My confused body just simply stopped working after that. Yet there was no clear medical reason for what was going on. My husband and I decided it was time to take a break, to give me a chance to alleviate some of the stress that trying had placed on me and to give us a chance to pay off some bills and get some breathing room.
By this time I was working part time and focusing on my writing career and had no health insurance. It kind of made sense to wait until I could get on my husband’s policy during the open enrollment period–8 months away.
Fast forward to April…my body still wasn’t working–at least not obviously. I was still stressed but not as much, I was just tired. Extremely tired. I just shrugged it off and started taking vitamins again. I’d struggled with anemia in the past–many times–and that had always made me tired, too. Usually after about a week of the iron-fortified vitamins I started feeling better. Not this time. I was still tired, so I started taking afternoon naps instead of working on my novel. I thought nothing else of it.
May rolled around and I was still tired, so I started going to bed a bit earlier. I love sleeping and love long naps–so I did what I wanted and slept. And slept. And slept some more.
On May 11th I found the last of the pregnancy tests I’d purchased when we were trying to conceive. I’d hidden it in the corner of the shelf, but I’d always known it was there. Taunting me. Teasing me. Reminding me every time I stepped into the bathroom that I couldn’t do it.
I decided to get rid of the test, yet the frugal, practical side of me couldn’t see throwing away a test that had been unused. So I decided to use it, just to reiterate my own failure and as a joke since my husband and I had started taking precautions (though I secretly thought they were unnecessary) and to just get the damned test out of my sight and out of my house.
So I took the test. And I watched it like I had so many others. It took less than 10 seconds of the required three minutes for a positive result to appear.
I had never been so terrified in my life. I was terrified that I’d imagined it, terrified that it was a test malfunction, terrified that it was true. So I stared at the test and stared at it in a state of shock I cannot with any words describe.
So I went into the bedroom and woke my husband. My simple “I need you in here for a moment…” is a conversation starter I will never forget. He stumbled into the kitchen (he does not wake easy) and I pushed the test across the island to him…he stared at it. Then he asked what it was…then he focused on the simple white stick.
He asked if it was for real. Then he stumbled back to bed.
Huh? Not the response I expected. A few minutes later he popped his head back outside the bedroom door…”Did you just…”
“Yeah…” Not the greatest response, but I still hadn’t put it into words just what the test signified.
“We’ll talk when I wake up.” He worked night shift and had to work that night.
Sounded good to me–I needed time to process and I always had trouble processing when other people–including my husband–were around.
Well, I processed by going to the store (I don’t remember the drive) and buying seven more tests. By five o’clock our kitchen counter was littered with positive tests, pink, blue, digital, plus–they were all there for my husband to see when he woke up.
Fast forward a few weeks and I am extremely sick and had been diagnosed with hyperemesis–or extreme morning sickness. I was definitely pregnant, we’d had an ultrasound and been given a due date of Dec. 27. I’m sick, tired, and terrified but we are also extremely excited.
Around fifteen weeks I get violently ill (more so than with the hyperemesis), with a hidden kidney infection and spend three days/two nights hospitalized. But I get another ultrasound—and I feel the baby move for the first time.
At 20 weeks we are scheduled for the big gender ultrasound. All of the grandparents and my sister are waiting to find out the results. Our results via ultrasound–it was definitely a baby. A mischievous baby who’d refused to hold still long enough to show us whether our nursery would be pink or blue.
Disappointed…but my biggest concern before the ultrasound was that there would be something wrong with my baby. After the ultrasound I didn’t care that we hadn’t found out the gender, I was just thrilled to see little arms and legs waving around wildly.
On my 30th birthday, we went in for another ultrasound…mainly to ensure that our baby didn’t have an overly large head (my husband had had a larger head at birth) and was in a good birth position. He’d gotten stuck, and I was terrified our little one would too!
It was very clear from the screen that our baby would be wearing a lot of pink clothing.
On December 14th I went on maternity leave because although my job was easy, I was getting too tired by the end of my shift. At this point I was 37 weeks and a few days pregnant.
The next ten days were filled with naps and doctor’s appointments.
My body once again refused to work. I wasn’t dilating at all. So it looked like I would be spending Christmas the size of a whale. No big deal, I was just excited to have a baby coming and though I was tired and hurting and ready for it to be over with, I was also glad to not have to go through labor yet. I’d spent most of this pregnancy terrified, so why wouldn’t I be terrified of delivery?
On Dec. 23rd I go in again to get checked, only to be told there was no change.
No dilation and I would not be getting my baby before Christmas…
Christmas Eve, I sleep in. By this point my husband was sleeping in the nursery on a rollaway mattress because I was horrible to sleep with (I lost count of the number of times I’d kicked him or hit him in my sleep, poor man!).
Enter one determined Border collie…
She kept licking my hand and then my face, whimpering and jumping around on the bed. I just assumed my husband had overslept and Liberty just couldn’t hold it anymore.
I just wanted to sleep!
A 39 week 5 day pregnant woman just wants as much sleep as she can get.
As I rolled over, I felt a trickle. I stood up and walked into the living room…by the time I got there I realized something truly wasn’t right.
I was bleeding, and it wasn’t minor.
I went to the restroom just as my water broke. But it wasn’t just amniotic fluid. I was passing blood clots. I pushed Liberty out of the way–she was standing outside the nursery whimpering–and opened the door to the nursery and told my husband I was bleeding. I don’t think his knees even bent; he just sort of floated up. While he put on his shoes and used the restroom I had time to grab the hospital bag and my coat. To call my mom to come clean up the blood and to take care of the dogs. Five minutes later we were on our way to the hospital.
I was calm. He was terrified.
I wasn’t in any pain, and more importantly, the baby was moving around like crazy. She was ok and that meant everything.
By 10:30 we were there, and they rushed me past the admitting desk and straight up to the labor and delivery floor. I was a bloody mess, after all.
And then the bleeding stopped. I was not dilated any more than I had been the day before.
I felt pretty good. And strangely calm.
They hooked me up to IVs of fluids and pitocin to increase the contractions and their strength. I could feel some contractions, very minor ones. But still no dilation.
An hour later my doctor arrives to tell me the baby’s heart rate was dropping more after every contraction. And I still hadn’t dilated.
Once again, my body was not working. Big surprise, right?
We discussed options. At 4p.m. the surgical team had arrived and I was prepped and on my way back for the surgery. The anesthesiologist did the epidural and I was numb. My husband was led in. He and the anesthesiologist stayed by my head, talking to me while they did the surgery. I asked the anesthesiologist how long on average a c-section would take.
“Let’s see…” Was his reply.
A few minutes later he returned…”Three minutes…”
I heard my baby crying as they cleaned her up.
They handed her to her daddy and he held her next to my face. That first upside down view of her little face is one I will never forget.
It was 4:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
We named her Evalyn, a name we had picked out a few years before we’d started trying. We hadn’t known our Evie would arrive on Christmas Eve.
The little baby I had prayed so hard for on Christmas day the year before had made it by the next Christmas–with less than eight hours to spare.
Christmas Evie was here…and an answer to her mother’s prayers.
Greta Nole loved the old hotel more than any other place on earth. If the new owners close it down, she'd be out of a job and her beloved hotel would be gone forever. She'd do whatever she had to do to get the hotel in tiptop shape before the new owner arrived after Christmas. But first she had to survive Stormzilla, the nastiest snowstorm to hit southern Indiana in years.
Owen Levi III had no clue why his father would buy such a relic as the Jubilee--and then send Owen out there to check it out so close to Christmas. Had his dad finally lost his mind? The hotel was nothing more than an albatross around Levi Industries' neck and the only recommendation Owen could make was to tear it down! Quick. Owen's staring out the window, mentally going over what would need to be done to even get the hotel habitable when he sees an idiot woman walking through the storm. When she trips and hits her head Owen's outside to rescue her faster than he can think.
Greta and Owen have tangled over hotels before, and neither would ever admit defeat!