Sommer Elizabeths Birth Story 7 Months In The Making...

It's been over a year since I have last written. My how life has been so very heavy and utterly breathtaking in the same breath.  I have tried to write since this post and words have failed me time and again.

Today I will move forward.

Today my therapy begins again. My heart will open back up and do what it loves to do the most. Write.

Today I will share with you my daughter, yes DAUGHTERS, birth story. She deserves that.  He deserves that because there is no doubt Dad went to the throne and helped make this happen. 

(kelly goggin photography)
I knew that I was pregnant just mere weeks before losing my Dad.  Because I had lost a second trimester baby in the past, we decided not to tell anyone until we got a little further along. To say we were shocked at this ‘suprise’ is putting it mildly.  This baby would make five for us and holy hell five is a lot.  Some of us were happier than others, not naming any names David ;).

As I pushed through the first trimester suffering from pretty intense migraines, I would come to find out laying in a hospital bed that my Dad, the man who raised me as a single Dad for years, had died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 58.  My world suddenly crumbled as I shared in my last post well over 365 days ago.  Suddenly I didn’t know up from down. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t sleep.  My family and I lived in a haze for weeks on end.  We did everything a loved one is supposed to do when someone dies.  We went to the funeral home. Planned everything just so (with the help of hundreds of Dads people).  We saw him lying in a casket.  Gone.  Forever.  We kissed him. We talked to him. Laughed over him and loved the shit out of him in those final moments.  Stood in the auditorium, shook hands, hugged and thanked over 1000 people who came to say their good byes. Listened as he got a flyover from the Lee County Sheriffs department and watched as those thousands of people formed an aisle for his casket to be carried through and away forever.  This would also be the day standing in the middle of Estero High Schools courtyard; my Daddy’s second home, when we decided beyond the shadow of a doubt that should this baby be a girl (we never find out gender) that she would be named Sommer. 

Today, I cannot really say how I got through that.  The truth is, and I feel guilty saying this, but he was mine first.  Just the two of us growing up together. Him as a single Dad and me a wee little one.

I clung to that gift in those days and weeks after his passing. I still do. Perhaps that got me through or perhaps the baby in belly, who was so unexpected, was my lifeline to well... life.  I had to continue on for the baby.  For my other babies too, but without one in my belly I didn’t have to eat or take care of myself.  

Fast forward 7 long months of highs and the lowest of lows:

~Sommer Elizabeth West~ November 16, 2015

(just before leaving for induction)

We checked into the hospital on a Sunday night for induction due to uncontrollable high blood pressure.  I had my blanket made of all of Dads shirts tucked tightly under my arm.  I remember stopping just outside the hospital around 6 pm. I looked up to the sky, closed my eyes and just inhaled as fully and completely as I could.  I just knew I would never be the same the next time I walked out of that place. If I close my eyes I can take myself back to that exact moment. I wanted to suspend time. I wanted to remember that feeling of anticipation, gratefulness and joy after such heartache for all of eternity.

Every moment of those 3 days is so crystal clear to me, even now.  We anxiously waited in the waiting room for them to call us back. People would walk by, see the bags, my big belly and know what was to come. I was so proud.  So excited.  

Once I was all set up they started the slow process of induction.  The room was full of Grammys and Aunts so eager to meet this baby, however it was going to be a long night so they got hotel rooms nearby.  I slept wonderfully and woke up around 5 when they started my pitocin. Today was the day. I couldn’t even contain myself. 

I had decided after Dad died that I was going to try to have this baby with no epidural. This was going to be my last baby forever and ever and something in me really wanted to experience the entire process.  Besides,  nothing could hurt as badly as May 2, 2015.  I had mentioned it to my husband, but he wasn't to keen on the idea, so I just tucked the goal away in my heart, never losing sight of it.  Family arrived around 9 and we were all just so ecstatic. Because I didn’t have an epidural for the first time ever I was able to wear my own clothes, get up to walk around and even use the birthing ball which was awesome. Those were never options before due to an epidural and having to stay in bed.  I remember facebook blowing up the entire day with everyone wanting to know updates.  We had SO many people pulling for us on this day. Dads people. My people. Daves people.  SO MUCH LOVE for a baby not even born yet.

I don’t know if it’s because I get migraines or what, but labor was totally fine. I never faltered. I don’t say that to imply that I am so great, but it really was so easy for me.  I breathed through them and kept my eye on the prize.  My nurses were INCREDIBLE.  The best EVER!  They kept asking if I wanted anything and I kept saying I am ok.  Even when she looked at me puzzled and said that I should really be hurting from the contractions and was I sure I didn't want anything, I truly was fine. I am guessing I wasn't alone in this fight through labor.....

Everyone there knew of our story. Of Dads story.  They all asked about his blanket and then we heard about the bets going at the nurses station as to whether this was a boy or a girl. This baby though was going to take its sweet time.  I labored from 5 in the morning throughout the day until finally around 6:30 my OB came in to break my water. I remember him saying just before “if you want an epidural you need to get it now”.  I just knew I could do it, but fear was setting in. My family, bless their hearts, all just sort of sat there to scared to influence me.  So I looked to my nurse who had been with me through Talons birth too and asked what I should do. She was an old soul and she looked at me and said “look how far you have come! look how wonderful you have done all day long laboring!” and so, thanks to her empowering me, the decision was made.  My OB did not know I had chosen not to have an epi as he had left right after he did his business.  In years past, once my water breaks it’s game over and I just knew this too was going to be quick. Naturally a West baby decides shift change is a good time to make an entrance.  I knew within minutes that it was time. I told my nurse who was about to change over and she said to the new nurse “ he just broke her, she isn’t ready yet.” 
Oh’ but I was.  I began to panic and retreat inside myself because I knew this was it.  NO ONE could help me now. I had to do this.  Alone. Through whatever pain it brought me.  I kept saying out loud, the baby is coming.! It’s coming!  As I was crying out and the nurse saw me starting to push, she scrambled to call for back up and the room became a whirlwind of people.  They kept telling me to breathe. To hold on. BUT if you have ever had a baby with no epidural then you can understand there is NO stopping or holding on. I vividly remember thinking you can sit here with this utterly overwhelming force or you can push and get it over with. And so I did. I looked into my nurse Kellys eyes. They literally saved me as the sheer force of giving birth took over my entire being. She didn’t break contact once and her eyes seared into mine as if siphoning me the power to do this.  

The utter power that filled my body as I gave birth is like nothing I have or ever will experience again. I had zero control over myself. My body knew what to do and it was going to do it come hell or high water.  It took maybe 3 pushes and SHE was out. Born at 7:11 pm on November 16th, 2015 weighing 7 pounds 14 ounces and 19 inches long. 

I fell back onto the bed nearly passing out. My Mom told me after that she thought I was done for. I begged for oxygen. Could hear all of the cries and screams that IT’S A GIRL, but couldn't lift my head. I remember hearing Dave squealing through the tears that she looks just like Mason but the power that had taken over my body wouldn’t allow me to lift up and see her.  

Finally I was able to get my bearings as they laid her on my chest with a giant bow on her head.  One of my nurses Darla had made it for her before shift change and passed it on to Kelly before she left. She said she just knew it was a girl. 

My first look at her drew me deep into to her eyes as she looked up to me.   I remember mumbling that they were so big.  It was like she knew already what a gift she was and as her eyes bore into mine she began healing my broken soul.

I was in complete awe. I  had a baby GIRL and she did look just like Mason.  Sommer (after Dad) Elizabeth (after my Grandma who became my mom once my birth mom left us) West. I just stared in utter disbelief. I cried. We all cried.  I remember looking to my Aunt who was laughing and crying at the same time and saying “she came straight from Dad, she really did.” 

My brother later told me that as he waited outside my room for the all clear to come in that my Dr. walked out, saw him and said “man this is a good, good day!”  Oh’ how my heart swelled hearing that.  He has been with me through it all. All the migraines. The miscarriage. Paxtons diagnosis. Dad. He knew how much we wanted a little girl too. 

Delivering her on my own is single handedly the proudest moment of my entire life.  There truly aren’t words to describe how primitive and omnipotent that experience is.  

After all of the ooh’ing, awwing and stuffing my face (dear lord was I ravenous with no food all day) we were moved upstairs.  My nurse even got us the suite room after all we had been through the past year.  Sommer was already a princess.

She is very literally an angel from heaven.  I don’t have a single doubt in my mind that this baby that was such a ‘ surprise’ to us initially, was a part of our story all along.  It is no coincidence that after four boys, our little girl, who we would name Sommer came when she did.  I don’t know what happens to us when we die. I like to believe there is some form of heaven where we are reunited with the ones we miss and love most. I wasn’t brought up religious, so I don’t have any certain intrinsic belief in me, but I do know that we are powerful beings with the potential to mighty things.  My Dad did in life and in his death.  My daughter is the by-product of that. She is the very representation of the circle of life. That soothes me as I continue to navigate this grief.  

(thank you jaime for being there as she made her entrance and for always just getting it)

She comforts me every minute of every day. Her soul is so angelic and her demeanor heavenly in every sense of the word.

(kelly goggin photography)

I will never know why my Daddy had to go so soon. It hurts. SO badly, even now. I literally miss him more with each passing day, but in his wake he left me a perfect piece of himself.  A little girl who is Sommer genes through and through. Identical to her Mama who likes to think she is just like her Daddy.  Their stories will forever be intertwined and one day she will come to understand how special she really is, because you don't get a name like Sommer unless you are #sommerstrong.

(me on the left, sommer on the right)

Until we meet again, we will remain #sommerstrong Dad.  Miss you and love you morester.

and p.s.~ thank you.


What a beautiful post! I bet all those boys are just in love with their little sissy!
Jordans Heart said…
Just catching up with ur blog!
I'm utterly so sorry for the adding of your dad! My heart breaks for you.
He has given u an amazing gift congrats on the safe and healthy arrival of Sommer.
Love Elis, (Jordan's mummy, hlhs CHD mommy) xx

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