Face of hope

Face of hope
Courtesy: TIffany Kay Photography

Monday, March 4, 2013

Paving the Way

This post is probably going to be a bit different...and perhaps a bit long.  But it's supposed to be.  I love keeping everyone updated on Meagan and all her progress and struggles as she certainly has added new flavor to our family.  But I also want to make sure I acknowledge my other girls when there are special occasions because my older 4 girls are just as important to me as Meagan....and also an integral part of our family.

Reilly (2 1/2) with Kaitlin (16 months) and Anna (2 months)

Reilly with her sisters Fall of 2010

Reilly and 3 of her sisters being silly at a photo shoot

Eight years ago yesterday started off like any other day.  I happened to live about 2 miles from one of my best friends.  I was pregnant with Reilly, and my friend was pregnant with her first son, John.  It was one of those situations that just "worked out" as we both set out starting our families.  So I did what I did on most days I wasn't working - went to hang out with my friend, Preeya, and spend the day together.  We shopped a bit for the coming babies, walked around, and then finally went to lunch.  Reilly was due on March 3rd, which I always thought was cool.  My mom's birthday is 8-8...mine is 4-4... so I thought it would be so cool if Reilly was born on 3-3.

Wowzers! Me the day before I had Reilly. 40 weeks exactly!

Preeya and I finished up lunch together and I remember starting to not feel that great.  Here I was on my due date, and no signs of anything happening.  I wasn't holding my breath as I know first babies can often come later.  As the afternoon went on, I started to have cramping.  I thought perhaps I'd overdone it, or my muscles were sore....but then I realized these "cramps" were coming in somewhat of a pattern.  I started to write down the times and saw I had about 15 minutes between the cramping.  I wondered if this could possibly be the start of labor and got excited and nervous all at the same time.  I remember calling Preeya (this is pre-texting :) ) and talking about it with her.  We were both really anxious to see where it led!

Preeya and I last year

As the evening went on, Brian came home from work.  I told him how I'd been feeling and of course we'd keep an eye on it.  We were both tired, so we went to bed fairly early.  I remember 11pm very clearly because I woke up in pain. A LOT of pain.  I remember knowing "OK, these cramps are definitely moving into contractions."  I had never felt pain like that before.  It just radiated from my lower back all the way through my legs and into my lower belly.  I woke Brian up and we called the doctor.

My OB at the time was a nice older man.  He was always so sweet and concerned.  He was a great OB to have for that first child.  He told me to keep timing the contractions and when they got closer to 3 minutes apart to head in to the hospital.  At the time they were about 9 minutes apart, so we hung up the phone and tried to rest.  Of course Brian went right back to sleep. (Can you blame him? He at that point had worked 60 days in a row from early morning to late at night...sometimes coming home at 4am to just shower and then go back into the office.  Oh the life of a young and "taken advantage of" accountant).  I of course could not sleep.  I was so uncomfortable! I remember walking down the hall (which is using the term generously...we lived in an 800 square foot "home" which I really thought of as a box with two rooms upstairs so close you could spit into one from the other).  I went into the second room that we had painted for Reilly's room.  We didn't know if we were having a boy or girl so I had painted it a bright blue and green and made little cute animals out of wood cutouts from Michael's to hang on the walls.  I looked around at all the baby stuff with excitement.  I sat down in our glider that was set up in the room and rocked.  I was definitely breathing through the contractions and they were getting worse.  I remember going as long as I could, and then finally going back into our room to wake Brian. I felt like they were strong enough and close enough to go in.  It was about 4am.

Reilly's room in our first little condo

We packed our bag and headed out the door.  We drove in the quiet darkness of the morning..hardly any traffic and really peaceful outside. (A rarity for the DC area as there is ALWAYS traffic).  We got to the hospital and went to the maternity triage.  There they assessed me and I found out I was 2cm dilated.  They don't keep you in the hospital until you are 3cm.  On the monitor I was obviously having very regular and very strong contractions though so the nurse sent me to walk around the hospital for an hour hoping that would push me along.

I remember the disappointment the hour later when I went back upstairs and was still 2cm.  I vividly remember thinking "No way... things have been so strong this whole time!!"  Nonetheless, the nurses sent me on my way with a sleeping pill so I could rest.  We left the hospital but didn't want to drive home.  We lived about 45 minutes away, and didnt' want to risk going all he way back.  Luckily my parents lived about 15 minutes from the hospital, so we went to camp at their house.  I took the pill and fell asleep. Around 11am I woke up suddenly in immense pain.  Back to the hospital we went.

This time, we called the OB.  Looking back it was rather silly not to call him when we went in, but, we naturally thought triage would contact him for us.  (Naive!)  We explained to him what had happened and he apologized immensely.  He said no way would he have let me go home that uncomfortable especially in true labor and knowing how far we lived.  He said the triage nurse never called him.  If she had, he would have come up and ordered me into a room so we could have relaxed and just stayed.  Oops! Lesson learned for future children - ALWAYS call YOUR doctor... don't rely on hospital staff to do so.

A few minutes later, Dr. S came to the waiting area and personally escorted us back to my room.  After that things went fairly smoothly for a while.  I got settled.  My epidural was placed.  I was able to be comfortable and rest.  Around 5pm, I remember feeling immense pressure.  I called Brian over and told him to get a nurse.  The nurse came and sure enough Reilly was ready to be born.  Dr. S came and got everything set up.  About 30 minutes went by and all was going well.  I remembered reading with first babies that you can push up to 3 hours so I was trying to not watch the clock.  Then I remember Dr. S saying "Call the NICU team."  Huh? What?  This was all news to me.

Turns out Miss Reilly had decided to..ahem...go to the bathroom before she was born.  This is called meconium.  It's not good because it infiltrates the fluid and baby can breathe it in, causing respiratory distress.  Reilly's heartrate started to decelerate with every contraction and things weren't looking good.  It became necessary to deliver her quickly.  Literally the next push, with a little help from Dr. S and the suction, Reilly came out... crying and covered in her dirty fluid.  She was taken to the table on the side of the room where about 4 NICU doctors and nurses worked to clean her up, clean out her lungs, and get her on oxygen.  I remember waiting for those first cries...and when I heard her, feeling such relief.  Once they got her all taken care of, and realized that she wouldn't need extra care beyond the initial oxygen in the delivery room, they cleaned her up, wrapped her, and handed her to me.

Honestly, it is difficult to "remember" that moment.  It is so overwhelming at the time, and something you try to gauge beforehand... but there really is no preparation for meeting that little person you have been feeling grow inside of you for months.  I do remember being in complete shock to have a girl! I was almost sure I would have boys....and was so pleasantly surprised to be holding my daughter.  We named her Reilly - a family name on my mom's Irish side...contrary to the "popular" name 'Riley' which unfortunately exploded that same year.  We gave her the middle name "Elizabeth"..a family name from Brian's side.  So there she was. In the evening of March 4th, 2005, a little 7 pound 10 ounce bundle of joy, Reilly Elizabeth.  My first daughter. My first child.

Reilly with Daddy in the hospital 

Reilly at 3 days old. Her first day home.

Today is her 8th birthday.  Much has changed in our lives since that day in 2005.  We had another child 17 months later.  We barely sold our little house as the economy collapsed.  We lived with my parents for 4 months while we searched for homes.  We realized we could not stay in DC and fulfill our dreams of a larger family.  We also realized our dream of going back to Cincinnati at the time couldn't happen as there were no job openings.  We took a leap of faith and decided to look in Atlanta.  We lost my dear sweet Aunt quite suddenly bringing us to our knees in grief and tears.  We finally bought a house in Georgia.  We moved in during the hottest months Georgia had seen in years....and both AC systems in our new home went out.  We had our 3rd child, a 3rd girl, 3 months after moving.  While happy to move forward with what our family needed, we grieved the fact that we were not living near my parents anymore.   We lived through many nerve wracking yet proud months as my brother became one of the elite Recon Marines and went off to war twice.  We rejoiced when he came home safely and married the love of his life. We watched elated as Brian's sister married her Army sweetheart.  We waited with her as he also deployed several times to fight for our country and said prayers of thanks when he came home.  (We currently wait again so keep Uncle Mike in your prayers as he is overseas at this time again).  We had our 4th daughter and I started actively teaching again.  We watched our older children start school, activities, and begin to "grow up."  We went through the pain of miscarriage and loss, while enjoying the joys of growing our family and seeing nieces and nephews born all at the same time. And last but not least, were blessed with Meagan who ties us and all our experiences together.

It's been a busy 8 years since Reilly was born!

Living with Nana and Pop Pop

Moving to a new home...

Our new home in Atlanta

Enjoying the new deck in the summer we moved in

Getting back into performing again with the JCSO

My brother (my hero) and his gorgeous wife

My sister in law and her husband Mike at their wedding

Growing in relationships with her Godparents....
Reilly and her Godfather, my brother.....

....they share a special bond.

....as she does with her Godmother, Aunt Katie

Staying close with Grandparents:

With Brian's parents....

...with my parents. 

4 new sisters born..





My artist...starting to take violin and dance

My serious beautiful girl...

My smart studious girl.... 

My silly fun girl... 

 Yes, things happen because we choose them to.  But things also happen because God gives us nudges in the right direction and we open our hearts to listen to Him.  Brian and I got married as soon as he finished Graduate school.  We were young, and ready to take on the world.  But both of us felt that nudge from God....we felt that calling that we were to be open to children early.  It wasn't the easiest decision, but one we decided to accept.  The more I thought about it, I knew I could always teach.... I could teach at 24, 30, or 50.  But I couldn't always try to have children.  I couldn't always try to have a family.  I began to see the clarity and wisdom in what God was calling us to do.  So we took that leap of faith and 2 months after we were married, were blessed to become pregnant with Reilly.  Reilly was my first child and my first daughter.  The moment I became pregnant with her was the first moment I was a mother.  We have given each other priceless gifts on which there can be no applied value.  However, more importantly, Reilly paved the way.  All of my girls and baby J have written a chapter in our family.... but Reilly was our first "chance" .... our first experience.... and the one who would lead us down the path that would become our family and our life.

Reilly at 8 months old

Reilly at 1 year old

Reilly at 2

So today, on Reilly's 8th birthday, I would like to say more than Happy Birthday to my first baby.  I would like to say Thank You.  Thank you my big girl for helping us begin our family. Thank you for being such a good girl, and for gracefully learning with us as we make mistakes along the way.  Thank you for being such a great big sister.  Thank you for being the good example you are to your other siblings... showing them the proper way (most of the time :) ) to obey, help, and have an open heart to God.  Thank you most of all for paving the way.  Without you, there would be no Kaitlin, Anna, Maura, baby J, or Meagan.  Without you, daddy wouldn't have his starting player on his girls basketball team.  Without you, we wouldn't be the family we are today.
Reilly (3 years old) and Mommy  

I love you Reilly Elizabeth.  Have a very happy and blessed 8th Birthday.  You are truly one of a kind....and I only hope to grow and follow the example of kindness and faithfulness your heart shows us each day.


  1. What a beautiful post!! Happy Birthday, Reilly!!
    Love, Karen and David