A journey that began nearly 4 years ago has brought us to the richest point of blessing in our lives. Early in our young marriage, we tried to have our own children, but had suffered 3 miscarriages. We accepted God’s perfect will through each of those painful moments and heeded to the promise that the Lord had given. When God closed the door with our first miscarriage, He opened our eyes and hearts to Juan Pablo. After the second one, we felt that God said that not only would He be faithful in bringing JP home, but we would also bear witness to fruit from the womb in a newborn child. As disappointing as it was, we endured a third miscarriage while holding fast to the word of promise that God had given us.
On December 9th, 2009, God delivered on His first promise as we welcomed home Juan Pablo Wiggins to the United States. That will be a day we will never forget and couldn’t imagine any day greater.
Many friends and family followed us through that 3 year battle. The support received from close family and friends at airports, welcome home parties, and the Christmas season was truly a remarkable and joyful one for our new family.
All through that excitement, another child was patiently awaiting his big moment in Emily’s tummy. On July 30th, 2009, we heard our new baby’s heartbeat for the first time via an ultrasound. In all other pregnancies, we never made it as far as to hear the heart sound. We rejoiced on that day to hear different. The months had gone by and we prayed for the hand of God to continue making and molding this gift in the womb.
On October 11, 2009, we had another ultrasound and found out that were going to have a boy! The projected due date was March 11, 2010. We were open to either a boy or girl, but were excited to finally know what the baby would be. Not long after we knew that we were having a boy, we chose his name: Samuel Michael. In the Hebrew language, Samuel means “heard from God,” which was a perfect fit provided that we “heard” from the Lord that He would give us this child. In addition, of course, we relate the name to the prophet Samuel from the Bible whose mother Hannah had no children, prayed to God for a son, and God granted her request. The middle name “Michael” stems from my father’s first name and my middle name.
The baby survived a rough month in Guatemala with us as God was faithful to continue the work he had started in his life. Juan Pablo learned on our last trip that he was going to have a baby brother. We knew he would make a great big brother through his compassion and care of the young ones in his orphanage. Since arriving home to the US, JP watched his mommy’s stomach expand to make room for the growing baby and would pay close attention with us when movement was seen from Samuel kicking or getting hiccups.
During the month of February, we were supplied with all the items needed to care for a baby through baby showers and gifts given by many close friends. We were thrown a total of 3 baby showers:
Feb. 5, 2010 @ Maryland Community Church Feb. 12, 2010 @ Jay County Library (Friends/Family)in Terre Haute.
Feb. 20, 2010 @ Jay County Library (Church)
We had organized and assembled all our gifts at home in preparation for the baby’s arrival. Juan Pablo helped daddy put together the bassinet. We felt that we had a decent plan in place the moment Emily would go into labor. The baby was to be delivered at Marion General Hospital (John’s employer) in Marion, IN, which is an hour away from Portland. Our hope was that Emily would not go into labor while I was at work, which would mean that I’d have to drive an hour back to Portland, then back to Marion. In case this happened, we had a few family members on standby to shuttle Emily to Marion. I prayed that she would go into labor at night so that I could be the one to make the drive.
As we drew closer to the due date (3/10/10), our OB physician, Dr. Seward, gave us his availability in early March and wanted us to think about induction in case the term date was met. We both preferred to wait for labor to begin naturally without any intervention, but were also considering convenient dates for the doctor and family who could be at the hospital. On a routine doctor visit Wednesday, February 24th, Dr. Seward checked to see how far Emily had dilated. The nurse had mentioned something about swiping her membranes, which would help speed the labor process along in 15% of women. Again, we were planning to stay natural with the process and didn’t consent to the procedure, but later learned that it was done. Afterwards we agreed that no matter what happened, Samuel would begin to come in God’s timing.
Around 12:30 AM on Monday, March 1, 2010, Emily woke me up stating that she had lost some fluid and had been having regular contractions. We weren’t sure what to make of the fluid since she had lost small amounts in the past, but she claimed that the contractions were different than the Braxton-Hicks ones she had experienced in the past. The fluid amount wasn’t quite what I would have expected. I always thought that when the water breaks, the fluid would drown us in the room. Emily hadn’t slept at all that night and had little to no sleep days before. We decided to go on to the hospital in case this was it. Thankfully, she had her hospital bag packed beforehand to pick up and go when the time came. With much excitement, we spent an hour and a half preparing for a trip and stay in Marion. Juan Pablo was still sound asleep on the bed below us. We called Kim, Emily’s mom, on the phone to share the news. She came over to the house and remained with Juan Pablo until later in the morning when he would awake to no parents.
I loaded up the car and snapped in the baby’s new car seat. A fresh cup of coffee and some snacks weren’t necessary to keep us alert on that early drive. Thoughts and discussions about what would happen next and the possibility that our family would grow in the next 24 hrs was plenty enough to motivate us during the hour commute. I always envisioned driving at top speed to the hospital with Emily in the back seat pushing the baby out. Maybe that’s just a guy’s perception of the moment, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was so much smoother, but I still managed to drive faster than the highway limit 🙂 We arrived at MGH around 3:30 AM and Emily was admitted to the Labor department. She was escorted to her room by an emergency paramedic on a wheelchair. Emily was assigned to room #7, which we were shown previously after a birthing class. A couple nurses started preparing the cleaned room for a birth mother going into labor. I couldn’t believe this was happening!
The contraction and blood pressure monitors were attached and Emily was checked for dilation size by a nurse. She was only measuring to be 2 cm, which was the same as her last doctor’s visit the week before. We thought she would have been further along given the contractions experienced prior to our arrival. Nurses wanted to keep her on the monitors until later in the morning when an OB doctor would arrive to check her again. It wasn’t until around 7:30 AM that Dr. Swan visited and found that Emily was still showing 2 cm. When he heard that we were from out of town, he didn’t want us to go back home to wait, but rather stay in the hospital and over the next 4 hours, walk down the halls within the labor / delivery area to help the baby drop down.
We had an interesting conversation with Dr. Swan as we shared our story of JP, the baby, and how God was building our family. We connected with him as we learned about his faith, adoptions in his family, and a recent mission trip to Haiti. Since our regular OB physician, Dr. Seward, wasn’t scheduled to be at the hospital that day, we considered to remain with Dr. Swan for the delivery. Dr. Seward, however, has been with us through miscarriages and all the way through the current pregnancy. He had shown such kindness and support that we wanted him to be the attending physician. Plus, he always told us to page him to the hospital at any point labor began.
We did as Dr. Swam had advised and walked for 45 minutes back and forth through the halls. We walked by the Nursery and saw the newborns and it suddenly hit us that we were going to have one just like them. While on a walk around 12:30 PM, we just happened to run into Dr. Seward in the hallway, who had stopped by to see one of his patients. Just minutes before that, I told our nurse that we wanted Dr. Seward to be made aware that Emily was at the hospital. He was surprised to see us and mentioned that he had no idea that we were there. We quickly brought him up to speed on our situation, so he told us to head back to the room and he’d be in to assess Emily. He saw the same rate of progress as indicated hours earlier and asked about breaking the bag of water (induction) to help the baby along. In addition to this, he recommended pitocin to increase the frequency and strength of contractions. We chose to go ahead with both since if we waited, it could be hours, if not days, for delivery. Dr. Seward’s strategy is to quickly deliver a baby while giving the most comfort to the birth mother. In many ways, we have always favored this, but at this point we were up for anything.
Kim and Hannah joined us at the hospital just before lunch. Kim stayed with us in the room and Hannah, who was declared a labor coach, bailed after seeing a small measure of blood. We both knew she wanted to be there, but the in room experience isn’t for everyone. Marion General still had an active visitor policy due to the H1N1 season. This restricted visitation access to parents, grandparents, and labor coaches. Because of this, Juan Pablo and other family members would have to wait to see the baby until we left the hospital. Emily was on a liquid diet since her admission and would receive meals of juice, broth, and liquid dessert. Settling her appetite was least on her mind as she remained in pain as contractions came. On the contraction monitor, we watched as the magnitude reached 50 on a scale of 100 and repeated every 4 minutes.
Pitocin was administered around 4 or 5 PM, which began working as intended. Emily’s contractions were more frequent and painful. Emily had suffered through kidney stones, which is the most pain she had endured physically. I knew she was a tough woman, but the contractions were difficult to bare. She agreed to the epidural, which was given at 6 PM. The anesthesiologist was excellent through the procedure, but worried us a bit when he openly expressed concern to rush back to the OR. Evidently he had a patient in Surgery who needed attention, but ordered the nurse to respond to pages he received while inserting the needle into Emily’s back. I stood right in front of Emily and held her hands and she went through the process. Though the application would be painful, the long term relief was going to be well worth it.
Dr. Seward came back to the room shortly after the epidural to find Emily to be calmer and progressed to 3-4 cm dilated. He said that 10 cm was the magic number and she should increase 1 cm each hour. Being after 6 PM and given that information, we anticipated that the baby wouldn’t come until the early hours of March 2nd. Emily passed the next couple of hours with the lights out while catching up on rest. Contraction strengths were now regularly reaching 75/100 every 2 minutes. The pitocin was definitely doing its job. Kim and I stayed at Emily’s side while eating take out dinner in the dark. Emily, Kim, and other nursing staff were excited to have the season finale of The Batchelor tuned in on the tv in our room. I was either updating friends on Twitter or looking for techie items on Ebay while that was on 🙂 Bill, Emily’s dad, arrived around 8:30 PM to join the delivery crew. We were just kicking back with some coffee waiting for the hours to pass before delivery time.
It was at 8:57 PM when I stepped out in the hallway to call my boss at work to give him an update. The call was ended at 9:06 PM as I was interrupted by a nurse who was calling me back to the room. I walked in and found that tables with surgical tools and other supplies had been wheeled in around Emily’s bedside. It didn’t really process at first and I couldn’t have imagined what happened in just 9 minutes when I stepped away with the lights out. Dr. Seward came in and suited up as if to delivery the baby. Next, I found myself holding up Emily’s left leg on one side of the bed while looking across at Kim who was holding the other leg. At intervals, Dr. Seward asked Emily to push as he sat at the end of the bed. The time had come, I thought. It was really happening! Could I be a new dad in just minutes from now? Dr. Seward applied pressure and requested more effort from Emily. I looked at her face as she held her breath, pushed, then exhaled. She did so well and I was so proud of my wife. I noticed Bill off in a corner listening in on what was taking place.
Dr. Seward announced that he could see the head, but I still had no sight of it due to my angle. With the next push, black hair was seen and plenty of it. The doctor began to twirl the hair and jokingly commented that the girl had a lot of hair. We reminded him that we were having a boy 🙂 After another round of pushing, half of the baby’s head was out. Finally, another minute later, Dr. Seward had Emily reach down and grab Samuel to pull out the rest of the way and lay on her bosom. I was mesmerized by this living being still blue, messy, and attached to his mother by a cord. Tears were rolling down Emily’s face at the sight of her new baby boy. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was given a pair of surgical scissors to clip the umbilical cord.
Emily was able to hold Samuel for a short period before nurses took him for vitals, which were done right in the room. Here are the baby stats:
Name: Samuel Michael Wiggins
Birth Date: Monday, March 1, 2010
Birth Time: 9:31 PM
Weight: 6 pounds 13 ounces
Length: 19 inches
There were 2 proud parents and grandparents standing in the room that night. I couldn’t get over that we were witnessing another of God’s miracles with our very eyes. Our cups had been filled to overflowing with blessing that He would choose us to be parents to this innocent precious child. Samuel was given back to Emily for his first feeding. We were surprised how he latched on perfectly.
Here are some expressions from Sam after being swaddled….
Next, Samuel was given his first bath during which he cried at first and was happier during the drying phase…
Sam was soon taken to the nursery, which is when Emily was assigned to another room. The day had quickly passed and we had surpassed a full 24 hours since we first started getting ready back home. After an hour or so, our baby was returned to us in our room on a metal cart and in a clear plastic tub. He was so beautiful and peaceful.
We slept a few hours through the early morning hours on 3/2 before being awakened by Dr. Fox, a pediatrician from the visiting group. Dr. Jim Orrell (Emily’s uncle) also stopped in that morning and those to follow on his morning rounds through the hospital. After breakfast, we were called to the nursery to have the baby’s picture taken for posting on the MGH website. I’d say the picture was beautiful.
Kim returned later in the morning, but left around lunch time to pick up Juan Pablo. JP had spent the night with grandma and grandpa McAbee and had been hanging out with uncle Tyler and kids that morning. We had missed our other son and wished he could have been with us, but understood the policies enforced by the hospital. The closest we could get was to bring Juan to Marion where he would stay in a hotel with Kim and grandma Darla and grandpa Mike Wiggins , who were making their trip up from Terre Haute. Mom and dad made it to the hospital to see their new grandson. I could see the delight in their eyes as they spent time with Samuel..
I left with my parents to check in at the Hampton Inn and spend time with Juan Pablo. We had reserved 2 connecting rooms so that JP could easily access both grandparents via the central door. My dad and I swam with Juanpi in the pool for a couple hours while grandmas Kim and Darla talked and watched on outside the pool. It was another miracle to see my dad in the pool as he had been suffering physically for over the past year. The Lord had touched him so that he could make the long trip and swim! We played with an assortment of pool toys and games. I remember escaping the the hot tub nearby and watching as my dad would play and instruct JP to swim.
It reminded me of when he taught me many years ago. The swim definitely made up for lost time over the past day and a half, but I also wished that Emily could have been there also. I knew it was temporary as we would be able to go home in a day. We ordered Pizza Hut for dinner and ate together in the lobby of the hotel. After leaving JP, I knew that he would share in a great time of bonding with his grandparents that night. Kim later shared how Juan kept racing back and forth between rooms to check on everyone.
At 8 AM on Wednesday 3/3, Samuel was taken from us to have a circumcision performed. Though the procedure is fairly routine, we were concerned for our little one. We prayed for the baby during that time as we waited. An hour later, we received a positive follow up from Dr. Emily Barrido, a pediatrician doing the circumcisions that morning. She was pleased with how well Samuel did during the procedure without letting out a cry. One of the nurses told us later that she let him suck on her finger while that was going on. A half an hour later, we heard a page over the intercom for Dr. Emily to return to the Nursery. At this point Samuel hadn’t been brought back to us, but was still in the Nursery. I walked down to the Nursery, but couldn’t see Samuel nor Dr. Emily. In my mind, I was sure everything was fine and there wouldn’t be any way the doctor would be called back for our baby. Later I learned it was just the opposite.
With a higher number of babies in the nursery, a nurse decided to check in on the circumcised babies 15 minutes earlier. I think that alone was the Spirit moving to the cause. The nurse found that Samuel had been bleeding, so Dr. Emily was brought back to the nursery. Typically when babies cry, the bleeding intensifies, so a nurse put her finger in Sam’s mouth to limit crying. They tried a stick of silver nitrate to clot the blood, but that didn’t work. Finally some foamy substance and gauze were built up around the affected area, which sustained the bleeding. As a precaution, a nurse held the baby’s legs apart so that he wouldn’t kick it and cause irritation. This sounds routine, but at the time, we were terrified and immediately began to pray for healing. The scariest part of the news was that the doctor had never seen this happen except in 1 other child of thousands of procedures performed. In the case of the other child, the baby was transferred to Riley and this is why all of the doctors and nurses were on such high alert. A series of blood tests were ran again Sam’s blood to rule out hemophilia and other related disorders. One of the tests required an adult size tube to be filled. This also wasn’t something that was done often to a newborn. Praise the Lord, all blood results came back normal!
We had many prayer warriors lifting up Samuel that morning/afternoon as we requested prayer to friends on Facebook. Praise the Lord that He answered and held little Sam’s body together so that it would heal. We were allowed to sit in the nursery while he was held for observation. All of the nurses at MGH are wonderful, but two in particular were exceptional in their care for our baby and us that day. April held Sam’s legs for 5 hours during which time we chatted and she was careful to keep an eye on our baby. Debbie was the other who saw our issue through from beginning to end. She did a wonderful job of communicating information and keeping as as calm and comfortable as possible.
Sam had to remain in the nursery most of the day on that Wednesday and was going to be held overnight for further observation. Emily was scheduled to be released since she only has to remain in the hospital for 24 hours. The staff allowed her to stay in the room as a guest and no longer a patient, so we didn’t have to change rooms. Later that evening, Sam was allowed to return to our room because of his great progress. We were so thankful that the situation didn’t worsen. After all, didn’t we endure enough with the adoption of Juan Pablo? Here’s a shot of the little guy after returning to our room the night of March 3rd. We sure had a lot of hugs and kisses to give.
Thursday, March 4 had arrived, which meant we could finally go home pending all was still well with Samuel. The pediatrician assured us that the circumcision was still healing normally, but would need to continually be treated at each diaper change. The doctor ordered for the baby’s discharge, so we began to pack our belongings. It took some time to organize our stuff after being in that place for 4 days, but we wrapped up within an hour while receiving some final instruction/questions from a nurse.
Here’s a picture of Samuel sleeping early Thursday morning (3/4) ..
We dressed Samuel in going home outfit, which was a doggy piece with a hat and dog slippers.
Daddy strapped Samuel into the new car seat after which he and mommy were escorted to the car….
We were heading back home to Portland where we would be joined by Juan Pablo, who was ready to meet his new little brother. Bill, Kim, and JP were waiting to welcome us home. As we pulled onto our driveway, I could see JP’s excited face at our living room window anticipating our arrival. As we stopped, the new big brother walked out across the gravel in his socks to open the back door of our car get a visual of the baby. He got a quick glance, then we all moved inside.
We were finally home!
We handed baby Sam over to his big brother for the first time….
Juan Pablo was just as excited to celebrate the occasion with a traditional bubble gum cigar: