There were two big events in our lives this week--one in our family and one in our city.
The family event has been years in the making. My mother was 39-years-old when I was born, and when I gave birth to my first daughter at age 25 I felt a bit sad that her grandmother was already old. (I had a different perspective then--lol) Funny thing is--my mother lived to age 101, was pretty vibrant up until her last few months and made decades of memories with my daughters.
I was approaching my 65th birthday when I heard the joyful news that our daughter was pregnant again. After years of prayer, two miscarriages, and babies only in heaven, she waited for some months to make that joyful but sensitive announcement. She did it by displaying a hand-printed onesie on Facebook with this reference from 1 Samuel 1:27 "For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him."
Jen and her husband, Jeremy, decided not to learn the gender of their baby until birth and our excitement grew month by month. Jen purchased Christmas outfits for her baby--one for a boy and one for a girl. She was showered with many gender-neutral gifts and we looked toward celebrating with a new baby for Christmas. They refused to give any hints of potential names.
Her December 22nd due date came and went. We made plans to go visit Jen and Jeremy for Christmas dinner since they couldn't travel to be with Jeremy's family.
But Christmas Eve marked the start of this week's history-making event in our city. The snow began with just a few inches on Christmas Eve, and by the time we planned to leave for Jen's home in Ellwood City on Christmas morning we could barely see across the street and driving was too dangerous.
The snow didn't stop, and by Christmas night a record 34 inches had fallen. We shoveled and ran the snow blower only to get hit with another 19 inches in early morning hours of December 26th.
On the morning of December 26th we were out trying to clear that latest accumulation when we got a call from Jen telling us they were inducing her labor at 1:00 pm. We hurried to complete the snow removal as best we could, packed a bag, and took off.
The front of our house in the midst of snow removal.
These are pictures taken from other areas in our city. It was a crazy mess!
The streets were mostly unplowed and rutted. It was like driving over moon craters, but once we got to the main highway we could safely and SLOWLY make our way. We drove about 35 mph on the interstate (they'd lowered the speed limit to 45 mph but we couldn't get up to that.)
Amazingly, once we got about 15 miles away from Erie the highway was perfectly clear and we made good time.
I'd been praying over every detail of this baby's birth for months--years really--and it was such a blessing to see how God answered in every way.
The baby's heart rate had some decelerations so they had to stop the induction from time to time and monitor the baby continuously.
We'd been waiting for hours in the waiting room with Jeremy's parents when I got a text a little before 11 pm with the report that Jen was at 5 cm. and contractions were getting harder. I replied that if Jeremy wanted a break I could come in. When I got the answer "You can come in anytime," I was down the hall pronto.
In my pre-shoebox life I taught childbirth education classes for 19 years, and I was so proud and impressed at how well Jeremy and Jen worked together to labor as a team. Jeremy was a tireless coach, she breathed like a champ, and I got to cheer them on and offer some support with cool cloths and counter pressure on her back. And she did this without an epidural, which I later learned is pretty rare these days.
Three hours later she was able to push and in just half an hour our beautiful grandson burst into the world. It turns out the umbilical cord was around his neck and that was causing the drops in his heart rate throughout the day. Thank You, Lord for protecting him through that rigorous journey of birth.
He needed some extra suctioning to get started in life but was soon crying and weighed in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces. I took some pictures then headed back to the waiting room. I'd been sworn to secrecy so Jeremy could come and make the announcement to all the grandparents at once. And they still refused to tell me the baby's name.
Back in the waiting room the other grandparents threatened to torture me but ended up waiting patiently until Jeremy came to make the announcement, "It's a boy. And his name is Samuel James."
Hannah named her son Samuel, which means "God has heard". God heard Hannah's prayers and God heard Jen and Jeremy's prayers and the prayers of countless family and friends who have prayed for this baby. I pray our Samuel, like Hannah's Samuel, will hear God call him at a young age and will serve Him faithfully.
Meanwhile, by noon on Wednesday our city measured a total of 65.1 inches of snow since Sunday night. And they're predicting another foot or so this weekend. Once you get past FIVE FEET what's another foot?
It just makes the story better.