My first, my heart, my boy, my sweet first born turned 7 this week. They say when a child is born, a mother is also born. I am reflecting on what the journey that got me to be born as a mother and the amazing grace and mercy that brought him to us.
When we were courting, my then boyfriend wanted us to start a family right away once married. We had jokes about having a honeymoon baby. I said NO: I wanted to enjoy marriage and all its full benefits before jumping into parenthood. We got married in the fall - my favourite season of all time. We were both students - I was doing my PhD and my soon-to-be husband had just finished his masters so our wedding was both modest and perfect.
Once married we agreed to be open to starting a family but I reminded God of His Word as I wanted my full year:
When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home for one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken (Deut 24:5 NKJV)
For our first year anniversary, we went back to the same hotel where we had spent our honeymoon in the beautiful Laurentides in Quebec.
Fast forward six weeks later, I was scheduled to travel to Kenya to do my doctoral field research. I had just received a handsome amount of funding which made a huge difference because I had struggled to find funding throughout the program, my ticket was bought and I was set to go for 3-4 months. However, I was tired and queasy so we did a pregnancy test and found out we were pregnant. While this is usually a joyous moment, I was immediately worried. It was so early in the pregnancy. We were in a dilemma - should I stay or should I go. Since I was literally going home to my parents house, we decided that I should go. The husband was going to visit me and I had enough of a family network that I could get the prenatal care that I needed.
Doing research while on my first trimester was CRAZY! I was exhausted, I had to do interviews while having morning sickness. That being said I was also cared for and doted on by my parents. One of my dear high school doctor friends hooked me up with her obstetrician and came with me to prenatal appointments. I had to modify my research so I didn't have to do field travel research that required travel to rural or remote areas. I did tons of interviews in Nairobi, the capital and social media was a great help - I connected to health professionals through Facebook groups and Twitter.
When I got back to Canada, I was relieved. The toughest part of my doctoral program was done and I had my field research and data was collected. So I got to switch gears and prepare for arrival of baby. I got back just in time for the 20 week gender-reveal appointment (before gender reveal parties were a thing). We had his full names picked before we even knew his gender. I scrapbooked and journaled through out the pregnancy which thankfully was uneventful.
Josiah means Jehovah helps, Jehovah saves, Jehovah has healed. He was already healed before he ever stepped on this earth. His Togolese name is Edem - which means the same as Josiah in Ewe: God has delivered me.
On July 13th, 2013, my official due date 40 weeks pregnant, I watched with shock and disbelief as Trayvon Martin's killer was set free - not guilty. It was a Saturday. I remember looking at my belly and wondering what future my baby would have. I don't know if it was the hormones or everything BUT I cried myself to sleep. It must have kicked things into high gear because I woke up the next morning at 5am - contractions. I had been having Braxton hicks contractions BUT when the real deal hit, it was the real deal. I didn't have to ask the husband if it was contractions or not. The contractions seemed so we got ready to head to the hospital with the bag which had been ready for 2 weeks (yay first baby). It was Sunday July 14th we headed to the hospital around 8.30am. The streets were empty as we drove to the hospital. We had practiced the drive and even visited the ward beforehand. We were about to meet our little boy. I was amazed at how much I already loved him even though I hadn't yet met him. I loved the essence of him - all of him unconditionally. We let our close family and Pastor know that we were headed to the hospital so they could keep us in prayer. Once at the hospital they did a quick exam and decided that I was dilated enough that they were going to keep me. They sent me over to their Labour and Delivery room. It was a nice beautiful airy room with a beautiful large painting of a flower. I wasn't allowed to eat anything in case I needed emergency surgery.
So we sat. and sat. and sat.
What they don't show you in the movies is how s l o w labouring is. None of that 3 pushes and you're out Hollywood nonsense. Apart from the occasional contraction I was bored. The husband chilled with me. We talked about everything and nothing. All. Day. Long.
Around 5pm and the contractions were getting unbearable so I asked them for the epidural. I didn't have any of these hangups of wanting to experience "the real birth pain" I was like hit.me.up. The anasthesiologist was apparently stuck in surgery so I had to wait 2 hours before he could hit me up. By the time he came around I was more than ready. When that epidural hit, man. It was like heaven. I was so comfortable. No more pain. They kept coming in to check how far dilated I was. Now TMI - you might want to scroll over. They stick their entire fist up your vajayjay. See why mothers feel nothing - after you've had just about everyone look up there and stick their hand up there you just become unbothered.
Around 10.30pm I was EXHAUSTED I hadn't eaten anything all day except cold water. Even though I wasn't feeling the pain my body was still contracting and it was still exhausting. The doctors kept coming in and they had this strange look on their faces. They weren't saying anything to me, but they had the look - that look that every mother knows when something isn't right. The final person came over and said to me that apparently I wasn't dilating as well as they thought - this didn't make sense to me - multiple people had measured me - TRUST ME: I KNEW!
The machines started beeping and it is then that they said to me that the baby's heart rate was dropping. That I would need an emergency c-section and that I needed to sign the release forms. It was so fast I didn't even have time to process it. It was all in French and a blur. My husband didn't have time to ask questions or translate. They just said sign here, here, here and here. I was confused but complied - I wasn't about to do anything that would endanger the baby. Out went the birth plan. At this point in time the epidural had worn off. I was in PAIN.
They literally rushed me and wheeled me to the Operating room. By the time they had prepped me and prepped me for the OR it was about 11.45pm. I remember thinking wouldn't it be something if this little guy showed up on the 15th. I have this thing about numbers and their biblical significance - the husband thinks I'm crazy but I digress.
I'll spare you the gory details of the next part. The husband called our Pastor and our family to let him know what was going on and to ask them to step up the prayers for us. They gave me an anesthetic because the epidural had worn off, but it didn't have time to set in so
I. FELT. EVERYTHING. Before they made the incisions, I began to pray.
There is nothing like the prayers of a mother. Not diplomatic prayers - LOUD URGENT CRAZY PRAYERS. I was praying like a crazy woman. Praying in tongues. Praying every scripture I could think of:
You shall live and not die. You shall be the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor their children begging for bread.
It hurt and I was LOUD and I didn't care. This was between me and God and I wasn't about to let anything come in the way. The staff must have thought I was crazy - I didn't care. And I told the husband, forget about being diplomatic Oga, you better get praying!
They got him out at 12.35am. July 15th.
He didn't cry. I kept on praying. Not a sound. I kept on pleading with God. Silence.
After 5 minutes I was thinking Oh God, please don't let him have brain damage.
After 10 minutes - my husband turned and screamed - what is going on?! I looked back to the table where his was. He had this little white hand in a fist. And he moved his hand.
They finally handed him over to me. I honestly don't remember the moment. But I have a picture of the first kiss. I cried. A deep cry from within. My baby was finally in my arms.
The Apgar score measures the responsiveness of the baby at 1 minutes and at 5 minutes and is measured out of 10. In rare cases they test at the 10 minute mark. He was one of the rare cases.
His Apgar score was 1-7-9.
1/10 - that's where he started off - a 1. At 10 minutes he was more than normal.
Now he more than compensated for not having cried those first 10 minutes in the first 6 weeks of his life. When we spoke to our Pastor, he said he prayed fervently as there was a spiritual battle ongoing.
My baby boy was every bit perfect and every bit loved from when he arrived.
He is now a strong 7 year-old, he is brilliant, he is kind, he is sweet, he is a gift. I can't think of how his life began without a deep gratitude to God for him.
Not only did God give Josiah back to us, he was also born 9 months to the date of our anniversary. October 15th. July 15th.
God is a God of perfection. His timing is always perfect. I had flippantly joked that I wanted to wait a year and exactly one year later he was conceived and exactly nine months to the date, he arrived:
I will forever be grateful to God for his life. And for my journey as a mother.