Monday, September 28, 2015

Our Precious Monica: A Birth Story

After nine months of waiting, it is my privilege and honor to introduce you all to our newest addition,

Monica Jane Rauch!

Monica officially joined our family this past Friday and we could not be happier to finally have her here. The Lord has blessed us abundantly and our hearts grow more and more full each day with our little girls.

I'd love to share with you the story of her arrival:

Joel and I were thrilled when we found out we would be welcoming another little Rauch into the world. Celine was born via c-section, so we assumed subsequent babies would be as well, especially given the calculated due date being 13 months after Celine was born. However, the doctor let us know that we fit into a small group of eligible families to attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarian), so we kept open minds about the possibility and waited for things to progress before we seriously considered it, knowing that conditions had to be just right.

In the meantime, we (mostly I) spent plenty of time coming up with baby names. Celine's was changed a few weeks before she was born, but we had come up with a short list and quickly had our boy and girl names picked out. Because I'm a planner (who waited impatiently last time to find out the gender) and the babies would be so close together, we decided this time around to find out...

We are nerds.
Hooray! A girl! We immediately started calling her by the name we had chosen and secretly informed a few close friends and family members, who also referred to her by name. It was so fun to feel a bond and connection with her in that way as we anxiously awaited her arrival.

And by anxiously, I mean begged and pleaded for her arrival. I had a significantly tougher pregnancy than the last, with what seemed like one painful complication mounting on top of another. By the last couple of months, I was in pretty constant pain and begging God for mercy, strength, and for the gift of patience as we waited. To distract myself from the pain, my focus went back to the debate of VBAC or not.

My emotions matched C's in this picture. I literally can't even.
I am a pro/con list person and a philosopher at heart, meaning I like to talk things out, look at every possible situation, weigh all of the different factors, and when I think I've made a decision, play devil's advocate with myself and challenge it to no end. Joel of course loved this for months on end (he is so patient!!) and we continued to take it to prayer.

Because of our specific circumstances, we would either induce labor for a VBAC attempt at 39 weeks or schedule a repeat c-section, also at 39 weeks. Let the countdown to baby day begin!

Me: So excited! The end is near!
Celine: Can I play with your phone now Mom?
Remember how I said I like to play devil's advocate and challenge every decision I make? Well, you guessed it, a couple of weeks before our new due date, I decided I didn't want our baby name. It's not that I hated it or anything, I just didn't love it enough to name our own daughter that. We made a new short list, but for one reason or another none of the three names really stuck out to us. One didn't fit well with our last name, one would have her correcting the spelling AND pronunciation of her name for the rest of her life, and the other was kind of just a fallback. The indecisiveness dragged on, and we ultimately said we would wait until she was born to see what came to us naturally.

Around 37 weeks, the doctor started checking me more specifically to see if a VBAC attempt would actually be an option. I had to be dilated at least 2 cm, however much effaced (I forgot), and she had to be positioned correctly. She was head down (atta girl!) but all I heard was I needed one more centimeter to get the go ahead. I was OH SO READY to be done (and so was everyone else around me, especially Joel... Have I mentioned how patient he is? He is my amazing rock star five star husband whom I could not live without) so I started trying all of the Google/Pinterest/old-wives tested ways to induce labor. I didn't need to actually go into labor, I just needed things to move along enough. Pedicure (for the pressure point massage), spicy food, long walks, squats, you name it.

Long walk around the Clay County Fair, begging the baby to come out on her own. She didn't.
So here we go 38 week 6 day appointment, the long awaited day where we can make the plan and set the date officially to induce and get this girl out! My trusty doctor checks and survey saaayyyysssss....

one centimeter.

Poor guy could tell I wanted to cry. He sat me down and after I got a chance to cool it, we went over options. 1. Wait a week and check again to see if we've made progress. 2. Wait less than a week and see if we've made progress. 3. Schedule a repeat cesarian for the next day. He gave me until lunch to go home and talk to Joel and decide.

We talked and prayed and debated. I begged God again for mercy, patience, and wisdom in making the decision that was best for our family in our situation. We invited friends and family to storm heaven with us, and in the end decided to schedule the surgery. 

We still didn't have a name, but at that point I just told Joel to go with his gut. Whatever came naturally when he looked at her, that's what we'd pick. Friday morning, we still had a little doubt, but trusted that we were being led by the Spirit and went with it. As I was prepped for surgery, Joel looked up the patron saint of patience, just for kicks (given the pregnancy that felt like an eternity). As he sat by my head and I was on the table, he told me about St. Monica. We said something along the lines of "Oh, how about that."

At 12:28 PM on Friday, September 25th, baby girl was officially born. I got a quick peek at her and then a proud Daddy went to go cut the cord. I believe his conversation with the staff went something like:

Doctor: "What is her name?"
Joel: "...I'm not sure!" 

He looked at her and went through our names and nothing fit. Name 1? Nope. Name 2? Not that either. Name 3? ...what was that one again? I guess that's a no. He left with her to wait for me in recovery. I waited for the surgery to finish and thought about the name Monica, and the more I thought about it, the more it fit. Little did I know, Joel kept thinking about the name Monica, hoping that I was thinking it was the name for her. And it was.

She knew just what to do when it came to nursing, I was in quite a bit less pain than after Celine's surgery (and frankly a lot less pain than my pregnancy caused). Little Monica mouse and I were loving the time to finally relish each other's company while Joel and Celine spent their nights at home.

Monica loves all the snuggles. For real. This girl wants to be cuddled constantly. I'm all like, YES.
Sunday morning the doctor came in to check on us. I had only been awake about a minute and a half when she came in, and it seemed like she waited about 0.583 seconds before informing me of a complication they neglected to mention earlier. When they opened me up and started the surgery, the doctors found that my scar tissue from my previous c-section had reopened and there was a large hole in my uterus. The only thing blocking said hole was Monica's amniotic sac. Long story short, if we had attempted a VBAC, the hole would not have been discovered and according to the docs, "It would have been VERY BAD. You both would have been in a lot of danger." She finished my exam and left the room in minutes, allowing hormonal post-partum me to burst into tears. That's a big bomb to drop before I even got the chance to say the word "coffee." The family headed to mass, so I turned on EWTN to calm down... and I was greeted by a program on St. Augustine and St. Monica.

God is good.

We are home now and excited to figure out our new normal. Celine is absolutely nuts about her baby sister and I can't wait to sleep in my own bed tonight, even though I'll have this little angel waking me up shortly:

Thank you so much again for all of your love an support, but most especially your prayers. Please remember us as we transition to a family of four, and rest assured I will be providing plenty more updates and pictures soon.

Just for some flashback fun, here's Celine's birth story.

God bless you all!


Joel, Justine, Celine, and Monica


  1. Oh Justine, what a story! Little Monica is so precious and even before I began reading I thought about how her name just had something special to it. God answers our prayers in truly strange ways. So happy you and baby girl are healthy! I'm praying that you all transition well to your new normal :)

    1. Thank you Hillary! We are so happy with her name; we're pretty sure she was named by the Holy Spirit. :)

  2. Oh my goodness! Praise God for those sound c-section decisions. I've had the same thing where I really wanted a VBAC and felt disappointed it didn't happen. Then I started shaking weeks later when I'm reviewing my medical chart with my healthy baby next to me and seeing in black and white the c-section medical record saying why it was a really good idea that God didn't answer my "I want to avoid another c-section" prayers. You're babies are beautiful! Enjoy this sleepless but beautiful time together!

    1. It's so crazy! We knew too as we were debating back and forth that whatever happened, we would look back and understand why things happened the way that they did. God works in mysterious ways for sure. Thank you Abigail!