Expecting the Unexpected: a book review

Last Fall I was asked by my buddy, Amy Kim, to review her upcoming book, Expecting the Unexpected: An Honest Look at Miscarriage, Postpartum Depression & Motherhood. I eagerly agreed. I read through the manuscript in one sitting - on a flight and in an airport. I gobbled up her words through stifled chuckles on the plane and wiped away tears in an airport terminal.

For years Amy and I shared parallel journeys. I struggled through the darkness of infertility and Amy braved the depths of a miscarriage and postpartum depression.

As ambitious career women and adoring wives I don't think we both anticipated the journey toward or into motherhood being so difficult. So many of the public stories told are of positive pregnancy tests, growing baby bumps, and sweet smelling babies who breast-feed without an issue.

That wasn't either of our experience. Over the years I watched Amy's journey in real life and online as she bravely, publicly, and appropriately shared her stories at the right times. 

Amy was authentic and courageous in her own pain. And she was committed to getting through it, not stuck in it. I remember going to a book reading and signing of Cold Tangerines, written my old friend, Shauna Niequist. That was over 4 years ago. Amy was in the middle of a searing loss and I was smack dab in the center of a seemingly never-ending adoption process. We'd both read Shauna's book and it spoke deeply to us both. We needed that night together. 

Fast forward all these years later. We have 5 kids between our two families and it looks so "happily ever after". But sometimes the end of the story isn't as good as the middle part. The middle part is the part that breaks us down, strengthens us, transforms us, and shapes us into the people (not just mothers) we need to be. That's what Amy and my journey into motherhood did - and is DOING - for both of us.

 My endorsement of "Expecting the Unexpected" from the back of Amy's book.

My endorsement of "Expecting the Unexpected" from the back of Amy's book.

I know this book will be a gift to the women who's journey into motherhood isn't all fairytales and roses. I know you'll enjoy it like I did! 


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April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.

Introducing Baby Diaz #3!

At 1:40am, Doctor Fung woke me up. Immediately, I noticed she was in her scrubs with hair net on and my gut told me what was coming: EMERGENCY C-SECTION. She gently explained in as few words as possible for my blurry brain that the baby's heart rate had delcelerated twice in an hour and had gone longer and lower than previously. He needed to come out. Now.

Flustered, I called Brian and asked him to come immediately. We tried to call some sleeping friends to no avail, yet quickly got a hold of our children's pastor and friend, Julie. In a 15 second phone call she agreed to come stay with Judah and Addise. Thirty minutes later, Brian arrived at the hospital and the games began!

By 2:45am we were in surgery the entire thing was done by 3:40am. Amazing doctors and nurses all around. Serioulsy - SO BLESSED!

All spiffed up in his jumpsuit.


Behind the veil. I had to tape my nose ring for some reason. It's surreal to me that I have 3 babies and have never felt labor or any real contractions!! I am not complaining here. :)


Asher Zacarias Diaz.
 Born April 23, 2012 at 3:03am.
4 lbs 5 oz and 16 inches long.


We toiled over his name all the way until last week.  But finally we agreed that we loved how it sounded as much as what it meant.

  • Asher - "blessed, happy, fortunate" Asher is a Hebrew name, also a son from the 12 Tribes of Israel in the Old Testament, like his brother, Judah. Unmistakeably, his life is blessed by the miraculous and gracious hand of God.
  • Zacarias - "God remembered" The Spanish spelling of his name (a shout out to Brian's Puerto Rican/Spanish roots) is from the New Testament. He was John the Baptist's father, unable to conceive with his wife Elizabeth for decades. This passage was prayed over us years ago during our infertility journey. You can read his story in Luke 1.

After the surgery we were so glad we followed the doctors orders! We found out that Asher had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck TWICE and was stepping on in...and this in the breech position. There was no way he was staying in my belly safely much longer, much less going full term with a vaginal delivery!!! PRAISE GOD.

Otherwise, he's so healthy. He looks great. Breathing on his own. Sucking on his hand. Moving his arms and legs on his own. He was given a 8 of 10 number after his birth...a full term baby only can have 9 of 10. Blessed.

For a Type A personality this whole process has stripped away my preparedness. AND I'M TOTALLY OK WITH IT. No breastfeeding class taken. No Lamaze classes. No hospital bag packed. No forms prepared to jump start disability insurance. Whatever. My son and I are doing well.

Wanna see some pics?

Head full of dark hair, just like I dreamed. 4 lbs and 5 oz. Not bad for a 7 week old early baby!!!


Snuggle baby


Our non-Ethiopian baby boy. He's perfect. Chunky. 10 fingers, 10 toes. Chomps his gums like an old man searching for his dentures. His crying is a like a mix of a dog and teradactyl. I've yet to see his eyes. His ears are so brilliantly designed. His nose is gorgeous!


He looks so tiny next to the giant green hand.



I've yet to hold my son, but then again I had to wait 3 months after being introduced to Judah and Addise to hold them and another 7 week separation before they came home. This feels easy compared to that ocean-separation. Don't get me wrong - I cannot wait to hold my son.

Now we are awaiting being transported to another hospital that has a NICU that can adequately hold us. There are no long-term beds in this inn today. Bummer. Since I got to my part-partum room at 6 am, I've been attempting rest between incessant knocks on my door. Asher is kickin' it in the NICU. Brian's at home with the bathroom contractor and 2 big siblings. I got to talk with them on the phone this morning and Judah totally knows what's going on. He communicated he knew his baby brother was born, that his name was Asher, and proceeded to kiss the phone when I asked if he loved him. They also know this means "gamma" is coming to see them soon which may be the highlight at the moment. :)

So, there you have it. Welcome Asher Zacarias to our family and our world. I'm gonna try and get some rest again.

Much love and a FULL heart...

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April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.

Part 1 - What a Weekend!

When I showed up to the hospital on Friday afternoon for my scheduled non-stress test (NST), I had no idea what we were walking into for the weekend. Before I share the facts, I would be remiss if I didn't say a MASSIVE thank you to those who've covered us in prayer the past 7 days. It has been truly unbelievable, unpredictable, and demanding of our greatest maturity.
 
Friday Afternoon and Evening:
Went in for my scheduled NST at 10:40am. What was going to be 40 minutes turned into 4 hours of monitoring my elevated high blood pressure and baby's heartbeat. Within minutes, I was escorted to labor and delivery and admitted for better monitoring.
 
After 4 hours, our baby boy was looking good and my blood pressure somewhat normalized so I was discharged. They required me to do a 24-hour urine collection for testing and also scheduled me for another NST at 3:30pm.
 
Saturday Afternoon to Sunday Morn:  
I cooperated with the doctor's orders and collected my pee (terrible task) and came in for the NST.
After 3 hours of testing my blood pressure was no longer alarming and it looked like I was getting discharged.
 
Then, the doctor abruptly came in an gently announced, "it looks like you've earned yourself and overnight stay with us." Instant, hot tears filled my eyes but I couldn't leak in front of this doctor while she explained "why". A good friend spontaneously hurried over to the house after Brian put the kids down for bedtime so he could be with me. Thanks Robyn and family for your help!!
  • Baby boy had a few decelerations in his heartbeat over the 3 hours. Though my admittance into L&D was for my high blood pressure, I was staying overnight because of concern for his stability!!!
  • I moved into the "high risk" category and was told it'll be one step at a time as to what that will mean.
  • Throughout the night, these heart "decels" happened multiple times and always in conjunction with a contraction. I didn't feel more than a couple of those contractions. They were very mild. But as a result, the doctor told me that I'd probably deliver early; we just didn't know when.
  • We were asked to sign C section consent form if there's an emergency or if he's breach.
  • Throughout the night I was strapped to 6 machines (IV, BP, pulse, 2 fetal monitors, catheter). No sleep for the restless and exhausted. The nurse was in and out all night checking machines, checking blood pressure, taking blood, etc.  Lemme just say that L&D nurses are AMAZING though. Brian's sister is an L&D nurse and I'm nominating her for sainthood now.
  • I was given a steroid shot Saturday evening for baby boy's lung development, in case I have to deliver early.  They gave me another 24 hours after the first.
  • They drew my blood every six hours to confirm the safety environment for the baby.
  • The ultrasound showed that baby boy is 4 pounds 9 oz; he's in the 48th percentile. He looked good! They did an ultrasound on the baby & April could see his fingernails!!  He's got everything at this point; these last 7 weeks are just mainly lung development & weight gain.
  • I was given magnesium sulfate in a drip to help keep my blood pressure down & help baby boy's brain development.  One side effect of this is that it makes you very warm & sticky - very uncomfortable. I felt like I was going to spontaneously burst into flames at points. This is no walk in the park.
  • Throughout the night they had me on an oxygen mask to make sure baby boy's getting plenty of oxygen, which helped when his heart rate dipped.
  • I've asked whether I need to go on blood pressure meds & whether this means bed rest for me.  No answers yet.
  • Brian called Ed Salas Saturday night to ask for some prayer and assistance with my Sunday schedule. Ed was moderating our services at Newsong on Sunday and graciously offered to invite to pray for us. We watched online and I immediately burst into tears with the first song: "Come thou fount of every blessing". ** Take note of our son's name later!!
  • Sunday morning: A good friend came to take care of Judah & Addise this morning; she'll stay til they have their naps; Brian plans to go back & be with them from nap time till bed time.
  • At this point I was hoping for a Monday morning discharge (they already confirmed that I need to stay Sunday night).  
  • My iPhone app says the baby is 19" long now & if I deliver now, he has a 98% chance of survival... and only 12% of babies delivered at this point have severe complications.


As of Sunday Night:

  • When I called my mom, Brian was just leaving with the kiddos to see me. That was water for my soul. I was missing my babies after such an abrupt separation. My mom asked me how Judah & Addise were doing, and I said, "They're doing great... all kinds of people are playing with them!" ...and then I broke down & cried.  
  • A shift in my spirit occurred when Brian reminded me, "We've done this before - we had to leave the kids in Ethiopia for seven weeks - we can do it again..."
  • It was more or less confirmed that I would have a C-section, whenever he was ready to come.  The baby's heart rate decelerates each time I had a contraction, so the thinking was that labor & delivery would be too much stress & trauma on him. Plus he was breach.
  • My spirit surrendered and I said, "We have no control over anything anymore". A C-section was #1 on my list of what to avoid for a number of reasons. But my dogmatism wilted away to obedience, trust, and a deep confidence that God's got this.
  • My blood pressure was been normal for nearly the entire time. The mag-sulfate treatment helped with that.
  • Late Sunday night, the doctor confirmed that in order for me to be discharged from the hospital, she has to have a "clean strip" for 24 hours. A clean strip is basically when his heart rate wouldn't decelerate at all during those 24 hours. At 5pm Sunday, his heart decelerated again - so at this point, 5pm Monday would've been the earliest I'd be discharged.
  • Then, the doctor warned: There is a 50% chance I would have a C section on Monday... if his heart decelerates more, then they will strongly consider a C section earlier.
  • Emotionally, Brian and I were both feeling very good... no stress/not scared/not sad.  We had deep confidence that "God's got this... He started it, He'll finish it."  We had a good measure of strength & peace. God started this whole process six years ago & look what we have today.
  • We talked with the NICU doctor today, and she said that 33 weeks is a good size.
  • Of course, everyone is well aware that every day he's still en utero, the better, but having the baby now is not cause for alarm.  In some ways, having him now would be easier than carrying him full term if things continue on as they have for the last 36 hours.  Obviously, having him wasn't our goal or aim, but if it happens, "it's ok."
  • Meanwhile, our bathroom is under remodel. SERIOUSLY?!?! Brian's begging the contractor to work on it double time this week.  (The initial end date is 1-2 weeks from now.)
  • If the baby is born Monday, I'd be home in 2-3 days and the baby would be a little longer - from a few days to potentially 2-4 weeks longer if there are complications or if he just needs growth time.  It all depends on whether he can breathe, suck, and swallow on his own.
  • I got to eat dinner, Brian helped me shower, and went home around 9pm to get our kids from our friends house. I've been praying earnestly about our kids' sense of security and peace in these days. I think J&A thought they went on vacation with all the friends and attention they had on Friday and Saturday. Thank Jesus!


Words and Prayers We Fell Asleep To:
** that I remembered to save and post

  • We serve a powerful, provident God — no surprises for Him. (my little bro)
  • He's just ready to come. (Maria)
  • A couple L&D nurses who interestingly enough had their babies at 32 and 33 weeks with no complications with the baby and minimal NICU stays.
  • I KNOW you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, but sometimes with let's say with strong personalities (Which God uses mightily) the strength sometimes is our own pushing through.....and not God's. Just a note to make sure you hand over the control (EXTREMELY HARD I GET THAT) to the wise and remember FACT, FAITH, FEELINGS. Keeping those in order is vital for you and your tiny little baby within. (Annette)
  • "God is our refuge and strength. An ever present help in times of trouble." You are bathed in prayer & covered in love. Your baby is covered in prayer as well. You are an incredible, sensitive, knowing, adaptable, strong, intelligent, resilient, prophetic, faithful, deeply-sensing mom. You & your body know exactly what to do & how to experience this. Each step, each breath, is completely covered with the prayers of the Saints!!! (Becca)


    Sweet dreams and good sleep was in our prayers.  
    But another surprise was in store...
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April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.