How I imagine You

El Momma, big Sis Trinity and baby Mary-Linda

It’s always been hard for me to imagine how my babies will look and who they will look like, when I am pregnant. It was the same when we were expecting our second daughter in the summer of 2017. I knew she would look like an El. But, would her eyes be hazel like mine and Bakri’s? Would her hair be curly like Maddux and Leeland? Would she have olive skin like Trinity and Leeland? Or would her eyes be blue and her hair be blonde like Maddux?

When she died at 18 weeks gestation, I held her tiny little body in my arms. I remember that day so vividly. I never ever wanted to let her go and yet, I knew that her little body would not keep. And, I could not hold her like this forever. As the days passed, I would imagine her. I would have day dreams of her in heaven. I could see her. I could touch her. She wasn’t a baby at all. In my mind she was a little girl. She was three.

She was the age she would be now, had she not had an undetected fetal maternal when I was 4.5 months pregnant with her. She would have a sweet nature, because, well the Els all have sweet natures as babies. 💗 She would have had a distinct way of speaking. They all do. Each one had their own special way. She is so loved. I wish I knew more of her. But, I know there is someday. And, we are one day closer to that day.

Mary-Linda’s expected due date in 2018

Baby Jimmie Josiah

A story of our rainbow baby’s birth in 2019

*warning*this post does discuss loss and contains photos of birth

On the evening of May 21st, 2019, we headed to the hospital to begin the induction of labor for our 6th baby- our rainbow baby boy, Jimmie. I was 38 weeks pregnant.This is Jimmie’s birth story.

After we experienced a second trimester stillbirth with our fifth baby- our daughter, Mary-Linda less than 2 years earlier, I was considered high risk. On top of that, I was already 41 years old (which is seriously old lady time aka geriatric for a pregnant mama!). We decided with both of our doctors, that we would induce labor, if necessary and deliver Jimmie at 38 weeks. What should have been a quick labor- since I had already birthed 4 full term babies, and 2 of them without an epidural, was not a quick labor at all. But, (SPOILER ALERT) this birth story does end well!

Almost a year after Mary-Linda died, we learned that I had an antibody in my blood that was detected early in my pregnancy with her and could cause harm to a baby. Since the cause of Mary-Linda’s death was determined to be fetal maternal hemorrhage, we had something to watch for throughout our entire pregnancy with Jimmie. Every ultrasound was always completed with a check for any sign of anemia in the baby. M-L’s anemia went undetected and therefore untreated. We were going to do everything we could do to get this baby here and in our arms, alive. We started the induction shortly after arriving to the hospital on that May Tuesday evening. Our village of friends and family caring for our older Els and making sure they would be at the hospital the next day.

We were told that it was possible I could have the baby very quickly OR we would add induction methods in the morning. We wanted our older children to be present, so I was hopeful that we wouldn’t have Jimmie until the next morning. I labored ALL NIGHT LONG. It was impossible to sleep. I thought I must have made some progress and by morning time, my cervix had changed and opened a little. We were hopeful that starting pitocin would mean that baby Jimmie would be here before lunch time. My doctor even said “the baby will be here around lunchtime.” I remember, because my other children kept reciting this quote as the day continued on into the night!

But, Jimmie wasn’t here by lunchtime and by lunchtime there wasn’t much progress. In fact, we began increasing pitocin and things were getting unbearable. I bounced on the ball. I walked the halls. I moved around. But, it was so painful and not enough was happening. After more than 24 hours of labor, with the last few being extremely intense, I asked for an epidural. I felt broken. Defeated. I had experienced two full-term labors with no epidurals. I knew my body could do this. Neither of those labors needed pitocin. Why couldn’t I relax and allow my body to progress and birth this baby? I was a failure. After more than thirty minutes, (and likely a transition to the next stage of labor) the anesthesiologist arrived. It felt like forever. My contractions were INTENSE at this time and were coming 3 minutes apart with little break in between. But, again, the work without progress feels futile. My mom and children and husband left the room for the epidural to be administered. The rest of the labor story felt familiar. Things began to progress and my pain was gone. I also couldn’t feel my legs, but that was okay! My children became so comfortable as the day went on. Fighting over what we were watching on the television. As the baby’s heartrate began to show signs of distress and I needed to change positions, my older children seemed focused on other things. They seemed honestly shocked when my doctor announced it was time for Jimmie to be born.
And, with one push, Jimmie was out. As my doctor turned him to face me, he immediately began to pee as he cried loudly. The kids were over the moon and the rest of us were completely overwhelmed and grateful that this miracle baby was here, earthside. 
This birth experience, although not perfect, ended in the most perfect way imaginable. 
May 23, 2019 I wrote this: “Yesterday we experienced a glimpse of heaven on earth. Our miracle, prayed for, hoped for, dreamed of, little boy joined our family in dramatic style. He came when he was ready. Momma and baby are both doing well. And all the Els are over the moon for their baby brother. I know Mary-Linda and grandfather are together in heaven rejoicing for us.
 Introducing Jimmie Josiah El-Hakam. Born May 22, 2019. 9:33pm. 7 lbs 5 oz 20 1/4 in long  We love you so much, Jimmie 💙💙”

For Mary-Linda’s birth story, click here (Mary-Linda was born sleeping in 2017)
For Leeland’s birth story, click here (Leeland was born in 2010)

For Trinity’s birth story, click here (Trinity was born in 2008)
For Bakri and Maddux’s birth story, click ….just kidding. I started blogging in 2008. Some day I will sit down and transfer their stories from their baby books. 

Birth Story- Leeland Thaddeus

This is the birth story of our fourth child, Leeland Thaddeus, July 15, 2010.

At 1am this morning, I was awakened by contractions. They were coming regularly and mild to painful. I decided to take a shower to see if they would stop or continue. While standing in the shower, I found the contractions to be more painful and to gain in strength. I made my way back to the bed to lay down. It was impossible to rest and the contractions kept coming, so I woke up my husband. “I think I am in labor.” He knew after nearly 8 weeks of contractions of various strength, I would know if I was in labor. He immediately got up and got ready. We called his sister and she made her way to our house so we could leave our two older sons asleep in their beds. I called the midwife on call- Titi and spoke with her at 3:25 am. After I explained what I was feeling to her, we agreed to meet at the hospital.

My husband’s sister arrived at our house and we headed out. We arrived at the hospital just after 4am. My midwife checked my cervix at 4:20am and I was dilated 3.5 cm, 80% effaced and the baby was at a -1 station. I was thrilled. This was the first time out of the 4 pregnancies, I had ever arrived to the hospital in labor and been that far along. I knew I was not going to take an epidural. And, I was excited to be able to labor in a completely different way than my previous babies- without constant monitoring, with minimal checking of the cervix and with the freedom to be able to move around.

My midwife gave me an area to walk in the hallway and encouraged me to walk for 30 minutes stopping periodically during a contraction to hold on to the railing, squat a little, moan a lot, and try to relax my muscles and let the baby move down. I tried this for a while and the contractions seemed to get stronger and closer together. I made my way back to my room a few times and after about an hour of laboring this way, I decided I was ready for a change.

My midwife ran the bath water for me and I tried laboring in the tub. It was great. The contractions were still painful and labor was still progressing, but it was so nice to be able to completely relax between contractions. After only 4 contractions, I felt like things had progressed quite a bit and I was nearing the point of needing to push. I got out of the tub and headed toward the bed. I labored there next to the bed for a couple of contractions so they could monitor the baby.

Since I told my midwife I was feeling the desire to push and I sounded like I was feeling this way, she checked my cervix again. This was only the second time for her to check. At this point, I was dilated 8 cm, completely effaced and the baby was at a 0 station. I immediately knew I didn’t have much longer. With my last baby, when I was 8 cm dilated, I actually was 10 cm dilated during a contraction and that meant I could push. I was hoping it was the same with this baby.

My 3 previous babies weighed 8 lbs 5 ounces, 7 lbs 13 ounces, and 8 lbs 10 ounces. When it came time to push with the second 2 babies, it literally took 2 pushes and they were out. It was complete relief from labor. However, this time that didn’t happen. I didn’t know it at the time, but Leeland being 1 lb 10 ounces larger than my previously largest baby made a big difference. I had no idea he was that big. Thank God. Because, that would have been just a little bit intimidating. After considerable effort and a lot of hard prayer, Leeland was born at 6:37am.

He was blue at first because the cord was compressed. But, they put him right to my chest and gave him oxygen and soon he pinked right up and cried loudly. It was a blessed sound!

He weighed 10 lbs, 4 ounces and is 22 inches long. He’s happy and alert.

Today feels like a dream come true. Leeland is perfectly perfect and he arrived at the perfect time he was meant to. I am thankful to all of you for your prayers and for thinking of us during this time. We’ve felt your love and it has meant so much to us. I am also grateful for my loving husband. He was my support today. He trusted my instincts and was there with me every step and moan and grown along the way. Thank you, Love!

Much love from the EL 6.

Have You Written a Birth Plan?

I went to visit the Midwives’ Office today and had my “birth plan” with me. Probably 5 or 6 weeks ago I met with one of the Midwives and she asked me if I had one and assured me that they would make every attempt to honor my birth plan if I provided it to them.

Well, I thought this was a wonderful idea.  So, shortly after, I sat down with several large index cards and began writing my birth plan. It was pretty simple. I decorated the top of the page for our fourth baby and wrote on the top that this was a plan with “lots of flexibility.”

The plan is simple:
I want a quiet space to labor with not a lot of chit chat.
I will bring my own music.
I want to try laboring in the tub.
I want to labor naturally with no epidural and no other medications.
I want to be able to move around as much as possible and be monitored intermittently.
I want to have the most support from my husband and depend on him.
I want to have it recorded from a non-invasive area in the room. (behind me somewhere where my husband doesn’t need to hold the camera.)

I think that completes the list. I’ve been carrying my “plan” around with me for weeks. Today, I remembered to give it to the Midwife I met with so she could make a copy and put in my chart. She was so touched and emotional about it. She said that she had never seen a handwritten birth plan. At first I thought she just meant that most people typed them up or had them on their iphones or blackberrys. But, she meant that people didn’t write them at all. She said most of the birth plans she saw were printed from a website and often times the mother hadn’t read the birth plan before bringing it to the midwife. This kind of surprised me. I didn’t really think that I had done anything particularly special.

But, she did. And, she was moved by it and asked if she could make a few copies of it to inspire others. I was happy to let her do that.

I feel really positive about my birth plan, because I know that it is just my plan and not God’s. And therefore, I don’t feel tied down to it. But, it does help me to have some kind of idea of how things may go. And, in the end, I’ll just go with the flow.

I hope you are all doing well. I know it won’t be long now until I am reporting labor and then the arrival of our precious baby boy! Good night, friends.

Anthony Stephen Maddux

Today a miracle happened.

God delivered a beautiful healthy baby boy to Michael and Patricia. Michael said “God Delivered him and I caught him” and that is the truth.

Anthony Stephen Maddux (our nephew) was born this morning just outside of the Woman’s Hospital of Texas. As Michael stopped the car, he opened the passenger door and the baby was delivered weighing 9 pounds 5 ounces. He cried and was healthy. They immediately got Patricia and Anthony inside to be checked. And all is well. James and Christian are doing well too. They were there for it all and are happy to be big brothers.

Now, everyone is resting comfortably in a room. What an entrance!

Welcome to the world, Anthony Stephen! We love you!