Monday, October 6, 2008

Morgan's birth story

Morgan's birth was very unique and special. I was sent home from the hospital in the middle of the night because they claimed I was in 'false labor'. I wasn't progressing past a 4. I repeatedly told the resident and nurse that this had happened in my other pregnancies too but once I started progressing it seemed to go quickly. They chose to not listen to me (what did I know? It was only my 4th baby) and sent me home with a sleeping pill and Tylenol #3.
I got into the bathtub to help with the labor pain. Gavin was asleep in the bedroom. After about an hour, the sleeping pill had worn off and the pain was getting to be too much. I yelled out to Gavin and woke him up. Gavin called the hospital and spoke to the nurse that had sent us home. She was kind enough to tell me that I was more than welcome to come back in to get checked and see if I had progressed. The hospital was 20 minutes away. I had another contraction and told Gavin I couldn't go to that hospital -- there wasn't enough time--and that we would go to a closer hospital (even if it wasn't covered by my insurance). I started to stand up to get out of the bathtub and get dressed but had another contraction and realized I wasn't going anywhere. I told Gavin to call 911. The dispatcher had Gavin get a shoe lace to use for the baby's cord after she was born. She was born very quickly delivered into the loving hands of her daddy. It was a peaceful, calm situation. I know that angels were present as Morgan entered this world. We were so excited to find out that Morgan was a girl (we wanted it to be a surprise and chose to not find out in her ultrasounds) -- a little sister and friend for Hadley--only 18 months apart. I noticed right away that she didn't have good tone and started to do sternal rubs to try to 'wake her up' from the sleeping pill the nurse had given me.
The paramedics arrived and took us both to the hospital. I was still in a lot of pain since I couldn't deliver the placenta until I got to the hospital. The paramedics asked me if I wanted to try to nurse her but I couldn't focus on anything through all the pain. We got to the hospital and they took Morgan to get her warm and do her assessment. She was considered a 'dirty baby' because she was born out of the hospital. Pretty funny since she was actually my cleanest baby -- born in the bathtub and all! Gavin made several comments about her not looking like any of our other kids. I thought she was just really swollen since her features weren't as defined as my other children and I needed some time to see who I thought she looked like. They let me nurse her for a few minutes and then took her away. We went to our room and they told us they would call our room when they were ready for Gavin to come down and give her a bath (another one?). We woke up every few hours and called our nurse asking if we could come see her yet. "She is still not warm enough. She is having a hard time keeping up her body temperature. We'll call you when she is ready." They kept this routine going until the on-call pediatrician came in to see us that morning. He had a questionnaire he was going through--health history of siblings, etc. He then said, "I heard one of you commented in the delivery room that she didn't look like your other children." I seriously was clueless what he was implying. I thought he was accusing me of having an affair. Gavin knew right away that something was wrong with Morgan and asked him where he was going with all of these questions. That is when he told us that Morgan had some characteristics that were common in Down syndrome. I immediately starting crying hysterically. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I had just turned 31 and hadn't even thought about something being wrong. I had worried about it with Jack but after having 3 healthy babies I didn't think anything like this would ever happen to me. The pediatrician told us that she was not breathing very well and they didn't know if it was related to a heart condition (50% of children with Down syndrome have a congenital heart defect) or possible sepsis from the home birth, but that they needed to transfer her to PCMC for better and more thorough care. We went down to see her in the nursery. She had an oxygen helmet on and it was obvious that she had Down syndrome. It was hard to look around the nursery and see all the other healthy babies in there with the 'typical' newborn look and breathing just fine. I had taken for granted that my other three children had been born healthy. I just assumed that was the norm. I left the hospital and went up to the children's hospital and spent the day up there with Morgan in the NICU. I had to return to my hospital that night to make sure I was healing okay and then they would discharge me in the morning. I got back to my room and there was a brochure on the table for me. A pamphlet about the UDSF (Utah Down Syndrome Foundation) with pictures of children with Down syndrome. I looked through the pamphlet and cried. How could this be my baby? I heard newborn babies crying in the rooms next to me and held my empty stomach, crying and wondered how everything had been just fine 24 hours earlier. I wasn't able to have my baby in my room with me. I wasn't able to nurse her when she cried. Instead I was pumping trying to get my milk in, hopeful that she would be able to nurse despite all the information that contradicted that hope. Gavin and I met with the cardiologists who were our Down syndrome information source. We found out that she had an AV canal in her heart that would need to be repaired when she was around six months old. They also let us know all of our options -- we didn't need to keep her if we felt like this was something we couldn't handle. There were couples waiting to adopt babies with Down syndrome. Divorce rates are higher when the family has a baby with special needs. Most couples feel like it will bring them closer but the stress actually tears them apart. I'm not sure what else was said. I was pretty numb to it all by then. But I did know that this was my baby girl and I absolutely loved her! I spent as much time as I could in the NICU because being around her gave me the peace that I needed. Her little spirit let me know that everything was going to be okay. And she was right! My life had just gone from ordinary to extra-ordinary!

Morgan's Poem
So small she lay there in your arms
With heaven still in her eyes.
You truly are the blessed ones
For she is a special prize.
Your Father took His extra care
and gave a piece of His heart.
In creating your little girl,
He created a work of art.
He sent this child to you,
not by luck or chance.
God knew you were the perfect ones
worthy to have her first glance.
You see your little girl, Morgan
brings with her a special light.
That will touch all those around her
And raise them to a new height.
She has something special
that she brought with her to earth.
For there were heavenly angels
that stayed with her through her birth.
Morgan has been given a gift
that she will share with us all.
She carries with her the Savior
in her spirit strong and tall.
All those that are blessed to know her
will come away the better.
Feeling the Savior's spirit
Just because they met her.
An eternal gift to treasure
Morgan's piece of priceless worth.
We truly are the blessed ones,
For she is heaven on earth.
(Written by my sweet friend, Tiffany Wilko)


Brittany said...

Well I am just sitting at my computer crying while I read that story. I remember this time very well. I remember seeing the strength that You and Gavin had and just being amazed. I knew right then that Morgan had come to the right family, she came into a family who could not only love and care for her, but who could appreciate her.

Grandma Bethany said...

Oh, I am so glad you printed Tiffany's beautiful poem that she dedicated to Morgan. I had forgotten how perfect it describes Morgan. I have many times told people how Morgan has blessed our lives and how she is blessed to have been born into your wonderful family!

Lily said...

What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it.

Heidi Rushing said...

Wow, that was very touching. I have heard the story many times but always more of just the facts of the event and not so much of yours and Gavin's feelings. What an amazing poem for Morgan - I have never seen that before. Thanks for sharing and being those special people that would realize the special gift that Morgan is and love and treasure her. We love her too and feel blessed that she is in our lives.

becpuls said...

I loved your story. It made me cry. My friend that has a down syndrome son said that she always felt privileged that Heavenly Father entrusted her to care for a perfect soul in sight of God. You were also chosen to care for a perfect soul.

Anhedonium said...

This post reminds me of that time Morgan was born.

K&K said...

What a great story-it mkaes me cry because it hits so close to home! That picture is so beautiful too! and the poem-I LOVE it!!Would you mind if I shared that poem on my blog? I would take out Morgan's name-but it is just so sweet and fits our littel angels-what a gift for someone to give you!

heather said...

K & K--I asked my friend and she said it was totally fine for you to post her poem on your blog. (If you don't mind, just be sure to include her name) And you are right--it was such a huge gift to be given. She wrote it when Morgan was only a few days and it helped me so much. It really has been something that I have treasured. Originally this post was going to just be the poem and a picture of Morgan but then I wanted to explain why the poem meant so much to me. Especially the part that says 'for there were heavenly angels that stayed with her through her birth'. So it ended up with the whole birth story and emotions that went with it.

Amy said...

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing all of those feeling with us. It really moved me. You have a wonderful way of conveying all of your feelings and sharing the pain and the joy. I feel like I've learned so much from you. Thank you.

Heidi Reid said...


You are amazing! I am teary! It's Heidi Gillespie Reid. I got your message on Facebook. Our blog is Just know that my husband set up our blog. Our background is blue and you will know how crazy we are. Just know that he puts a lot of football pictures on there. It is a guy thing!

I will see you on Sunday.



Lisa said...

oh gosh, heather, i am totally crying after reading about morgan's birth. thank you for sharing it.

Shauna said...

Wow, that is so touching...and as hard as I could only imagine this was to experience, you're've obviously been truly blessed!! Thanks for sharing!

karol said...

That was beautiful, I read it all through tears! You have a great way of sharing your story and touching others lives. Thank you!! Morgan radiates the light of Christ - as do you through your words, what a blessed family.

Love you!

kellyclay said...

Heather, What a Beautiful story of Morgan's birth, I remember you calling me the day she was born and sharing that story with me. and I am as touched today as I was that day. your strength and love are as amazing as you are.

Lori said...

I am sobbing. Thank you so much for sharing such a touching, beautiful, story about Morgan's birth. Having a daughter born "imperfect" is scary at first, but the blessings are incredible; especially realizing your baby is more than "perfect."
This hits very close to home for me (as you can understand) and I truly feel the same way about my Myah. Thank you for the beautiful reminder!

By the way, the poem is the sweetest thing I've ever read. Do you think I could keep a copy of it. It reminds me of someone I know:)

Chris said...

What a beautiful poem. How blessed you are to have a friend like Tiffany.

Hearing your birth story brings back so many memories of first learning of my son's diagnosis, a pain like no other. A pain, amazingly and beautifully, lessened by just being with the very child who has the diagnosis.