Wow, how is Abel already a month old?! I feel like we just got home with him, but then when I think about his actual birth, it seems like a million years ago already! A lot of life has happened since then! We’re still adjusting to our new life, and it’s been both so hard and so joyful! I keep telling Brandon, “This is hard, but it’s a good hard!” That’s what I keep reminding myself when Abel won’t go back to sleep at 3am, lol! Now that we’re starting to feel settled into our new normal, I really wanted to write out Abel’s birth story before I forgot all the details, so here it goes.
A few weeks before Abel was born, we found out that he was breeched, so he was butt-down instead of head-down. The doctor told us that they did not attempt vaginal deliveries for breeched babies and that we would have to schedule a c-section. This really burst our bubble at the time because we really wanted to have a natural delivery. For nine months I had been daydreaming about the moment Abel would be born and imagining all the things I was looking forward to experiencing, so when they told me I would need a c-section, I was really sad about it.
Brandon and I talked through how we felt about having a c-section instead of a natural birth, and we realized a few of the biggest reasons we were so upset about it was because 1) we wanted the bonding experience of going through the labor process together, and 2) we also wanted a redeemed version of our birth experience with Elizabeth. We didn’t realize we were looking forward to either of those things until the birth plan was changed on us! And if we’re honest, we also had some moments of anger and indignation about having a c-section too, thinking, “We don’t deserve this, after all we’ve been through, haven’t we earned this?” We felt entitled to have things go our way for a change.
Once we knew what was at the heart of our emotions, we were able to start changing our perspective. We reminded ourselves that God is trustworthy, he loves us, and his plans are greater than ours! One verse that I repeated to myself in those last few weeks was Psalm 84:11-12, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!” I trusted that God would not withhold having a natural childbirth from me if that was what was good for me. God gave me peace that if I had a c-section, I would not be “missing out” on his blessings.
Even still, we were determined to try and get Abel to flip over! My c-section was scheduled for Tuesday, October 8th, and I had less than two weeks to get him to flip! I tried everything: exercises, going to the chiropractor, playing music, sitting on my yoga ball, but nothing worked. I finally started to pray and ask God to at least let my water break at home. I LOVE surprises, so the thought of knowing exactly what day and time my baby was going to be born didn’t sound very exciting (or, rather, as exciting). I wanted to experience the craziness of having my water break unexpectedly and being like, “Oh my gosh, it’s happening now, we’re having a baby today!” So I started to ask God, “Lord, if I’m going to have a c-section anyway, could you at least let me have the experience of having my water break at home? Just let me go into labor before the 8th.”
On Saturday, October 5th, Brandon and I had planned to spend the whole day working on trying to flip Abel around. We stayed at home all day doing our exercises and going for walks around our neighborhood. Then, at about 8:30pm, I had my first painful contraction. I wasn’t sure it was a contraction at first until, after a few minutes, another one came, and then another. In an attempt to not send Brandon into full panic mode, I calmly and casually told him I thought I was having contractions. Of course, he freaked out a little, lol! From that point on, he didn’t take his eyes off me, asking every few minutes, “Are you having a contraction? Are you ok? You have to let me know!” After not having any contractions for a little while, I started walking laps around our stairs. I remember looking at the clock, it was 9:20pm, and I thought, “Well, I better go to bed and get some sleep in case he’s born tomorrow.” Then, after a few more laps, I felt a small trickle run down my legs, so I went to the bathroom where my water finally broke! God had answered my prayer!
I called to Brandon, who came running in, and his reaction was everything I wanted! He started to panic (which made me laugh!), he was scrambling trying to figure out what he needed to do next. I took a quick shower while he packed the car. Brandon makes fun of me now because when he asked if there was anything else we needed, I asked him if he could plug in my straightener (which he answered with a forceful, NO YOU CRAZY WOMAN GET IN THE CAR)!
Brandon sped all the way to the hospital. He even passed a cop on the highway, but thankfully he didn’t pull us over! When we got there, we got checked in and they took us to labor and delivery where a nurse started to triage me. It was about 10:15pm, so the lights were dim and things were pretty quiet. The nurse was so nice and calm, talking in a low voice while she got my vitals. After a few minutes, the doctor came in to evaluate me. She did an ultrasound, and yep, Abel was still breeched. She asked if my contractions were painful, I nodded, “Yeah.” My pain level was at a 7 or 8 out of 10 (I wasn’t in the most pain I had ever been in), so I think we were both shocked when she measured my cervix and she said, “Ok, wow! You’re at 9cm, there’s hardly any cervix left! We need to get you back to surgery as soon as possible!”
Everything after that seemed to go at lightning speed! The nurse stuck her head out the door and yelled into the hallway, “We have a STAT c-section! We need everyone in here now!” And two seconds later there were 10 people in the room surrounding me, all doing something different! I was being stuck with needles, given stuff to drink, asked to sign all these consent papers, and Brandon was next to me getting suited up to be in the OR, all while the Doctor was explaining the surgery and risks to me. It was chaos!
To add to the stress of the situation, the doctor told me was that they would try to give me a spinal, but there was a chance they would have to put me under general anesthesia, which really devastated me! I couldn’t imagine not being awake when my baby was born. I begged her not to, but she obviously couldn’t promise anything. Also, during all of this Brandon was trying to text everyone updates, including our birth photographer who had to rush to the hospital, not sure she was going to be able to make it in time! Not to mention, when we said we had a photographer on the way, the staff told us that I was only allowed to have one support person in the OR with me (we had no idea because with natural deliveries you were allowed 4 support people)!
Before I went back to surgery, my mom came squeezing through the crowd of people in my room to give me a hug and tell me she loved me and was praying for me. Then, they wheeled me back to the OR. Brandon waited in the hallway while I was being prepped, and he wasn’t leaving anything up to chance, “I want to be back there with her as soon as possible, make sure you come get me as soon as you can!” The nurses laughed at his enthusiasm and said, “Of course, don’t worry, we won’t forget you!” I’m sure he wasn’t the first high-strung dad they had dealt with before, haha!
I was SO thankful they were able to do the spinal in time and I didn’t have to go under general anesthesia! They laid me down on the table and put up the blue curtain, and that’s when Brandon came in with our birth photographer, Dana! I was so happy and surprised to see her with him! Apparently, he was able to get the doctor to agree to let her in there, but the hospital staff were still hesitant. If you know Brandon, you know he’s not afraid to challenge the rules, so I don’t know how many nurses he yelled at, but he was able to get our photographer in there, lol, (but for real, he apologized to some of them later). In that moment, though, I was so glad to have Brandon as my husband because he knew how important these photos were to me, and he made it happen!
The surgery started, and I could feel them tugging and pushing on my belly, it was a really strange feeling! It only took a few minutes, and at 11:03pm, Abel was here! We heard his adorable little cry, then they dropped the blue sheet and held him up so we could see him. He was perfect. I only saw him for a split second before they took him to the warmer to check and measure him. Eight pounds three ounces, and 20in long. I told Brandon to go over there and talk to him so he wouldn’t be scared, and I just watched them from across the room, feeling surreal, like I couldn’t believe he was really my baby! The OR staff thought we were hilarious, though, because while Brandon was stressed out trying to hurry and get Abel over to me so I could hold him skin to skin, I was laying on the table trying to calm him down, saying, “Brandon, it’s okay, everything’s fine!” But for real, Brandon did awesome speaking up for me and trying to make sure I got everything I wanted.
When I finally did get to hold him, I had this feeling of peace, and everything felt right. That was the moment I had been waiting for! I felt like I knew him already; for nine months I felt him move, talked to him, and prayed for him every day. Holding him made it complete. I didn’t want to give him back, but I had to throw up, so Brandon took him and held him, and we just stared at him together. Those are moments I’ll never forget!
After the surgery was done and I was in recovery, our family got to come back and see him, and we were so excited to finally tell everyone his name (we had kept his name a secret)!
Abel Phoenix Talley.
When we first found out we were pregnant, we settled on a boy name almost right away! We both loved the name Abel, and we also liked the play on words from Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Most people can remember the first verse about how God is able to do things beyond our imagination, but while I was pregnant, I looked up the verse and realized that the verse isn’t about how God is able to do these amazing things, it’s actually about how He, the Abled-One, gets the glory throughout all generations! Throughout our circumstances, God has done more for us than we asked for or thought possible! His power has undoubtedly done its work within us, and now we get to proclaim God’s glory to/through our own next generation! God has been so good to us, even when our situation didn’t seem like it was “abundantly more.”
Phoenix was Brandon’s idea! He’s always loved that name, but I haven’t always been sold on it. Then, we were trying to come up with a middle name for Abel that had specific significance to us. We wanted a name that contained the idea/meaning of new life, rebirth, starting over, new beginnings, purity, innocence, etc. We went through a bunch of names, and then I remembered that Brandon loved the name Phoenix, and I said, “What about Abel Phoenix?” Brandon’s face lit up, we were sold on the name!
A Phoenix is a mythical bird that bursts into flames when it dies but then is reborn out of its own ashes. The concept reminded me of how God gives us “beauty for ashes” in reference to how Jews put ashes on their head as a symbol of mourning. Isaiah 61:3, “to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” God not only comforts those who mourn in their pain, but he eventually replaces their ashes with celebration, gladness, and praise! And once again, when I looked up this verse, I saw that the point was God’s glory! He is so worthy!
I have been guilty of reading God’s Word and only focusing on the parts that tell me what I get out if it, but when I look closer, I see that all of the awesome things he does for us has a greater purpose than this temporary world! We are walking through our stories to the end that God may be glorified, and God shows up for us in amazing ways because he loves us, and his great love is what is so glorious!
We are SO in love with Abel! He is the purest, sweetest, most amazing gift, and one of our greatest joys! Having a baby is scarily irreversible and totally worth it! I’m so thankful for these birth photos from Dana Ashely Photography! We’ll have these moments captured forever, what a great day!