At Christmas time last year, Alex asked Santa for a kitten OR a baby sister. Either one would do as long as “it’ was hers. Christmas came and went with no sister nor kitten in site so she escalated the issue to God. Every week in Sunday school she diligently filled out a prayer request and placed it in the “Ask God” box. Her request was very specific – she would dearly love a kitten or a baby sister. If Santa couldn’t do it, God would. Well here we are, sharing all the details of her baby sister’s birth story!
He (Jesus) said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
Faith in action
Truth be told, I’d been praying for another baby for years. It was more of a telling God how intense my longing for a baby was than a request. Whereas Alex asked for exactly what she wanted and waited with expectation. A child’s faith is so beautifully simple and pure!
We were in the pharmacy one day and she caught me buying prenatal supplements (in the preggie section with all the belly pics). I hardly ever take medication so she asked what the pills were for. Her excited face was priceless when I told her I might have a baby in my tummy! And then she told me about her journey to becoming a big sister and that this was her doing. She was also convinced throughout my pregnancy that we were having a girl because that is what she asked for!
On the day that we saw the gender, Alex literally whooped with joy while Josh sat down on the floor and cried because he wanted a brother. To see him with his sister now, you would swear this never happened. In fact he calls Cassandra the “most perfect little person”.
After being pregnant for what felt like the whole year, we blinked and it was already October and time for our baby to arrive!
Cassandra’s birth story
Cassandra’s birth was not without drama. I caught a terrible cold and was bedridden for two days before delivery. At that point I just wanted to pop this baby out and take antibiotics!
Our birth plan
We knew that it would be a Cesarean birth because I’d had complications before. We scheduled the surgery for the Friday of the week long school holidays so I could spend the week at home with the kids.
Alex was excited to finally have the baby come home until she realized I needed to go away first to hospital. She had a moment on the night before wondering how things will change when Mommy has a new baby. After some cuddles and reassurances she was fine and once again looking forward to baby.
We got up at 4 am that morning. Ashley and I didn’t sleep wink during the night before because we were a bundle of nerves!
My mom arrived to watch them promptly at 4: 30 AM and she looked as excited as we were. I think it only hit me then the big day had finally arrived!
The admission process was felt really long. I was the first delivery scheduled for that day and we delivered at the same hospital where Alex was born. Surprisingly, there was a nurse who remembered us from that time! She even remembered that we’d had a daughter!
I won’t lie. Surgery is scary. Giving birth is scary. Once you enter that theater room and see all the scrubs-clad nurses and doctors (and there are many) you can’t help but feel anxious. And a little bit like a specimen! It took everything in me to lean inward and put all my hope and trust in the Lord. I knew that He was with me because Cassie was an answered prayer. I just silently kept asking Him to calm my fears and guide the doctors hands.
Meeting our baby for the first time
Cassandra was born at 7:41 AM. She was so beautiful and petite she looked like a doll.
I’ll never ever forget how startled she looked when she came out. We’d been preparing ourselves for a carbon copy of our other babies with their wrinkly skin and bald heads. Imagine our surprise when Cassandra looked nothing like her siblings! She was pretty like her sister (for a newborn) but had a full head of hair, pink skin and the smallest of the lot.
I started weeping the minute I laid eyes on her and Ashley was also quite overwhelmed. Her cries were the most pitiful little sounds just like a little kitten. They placed her on my chest and I kissed her all over her face which immediately made her stop crying. Every time I stopped with the soft kisses she started crying again. It was wonderful!
When they took her out of the room to continue with my surgery Ashley followed the baby (as we agreed). It would be two and a half hours until I got to hold my baby for the first time!
While they were attending to me, Ashley was enjoying skin to skin contact for all that time! Even now when I complain about how long I had to wait too hold my baby he reminds me that I had nine months of exclusivity with baby!
Our littlest O’Neill
Birth weight: 3kg
Born: 5 October, 7: 41 AM
We named our littlest baby, Cassandra. Her dad suggested the name and all four of us loved it. It has Greek origin like my name and Alexandra’s and sounds great when you say all three kids names together. Ashley actually wanted it to be spelled with a “K” but I was not having that. The whole reason why we don’t give our kids second names is to keep it simple. Spelling her name with a “K” was an unnecessary complication.
We disagreed over the spelling right up until the birth. On the operating table I asked everyone to weigh in and after much debate (during surgery) the general consensus was in my favor!
Our first moments together
Cassie slept for the first 24 hours on the outside. That really worried me but strangely nobody else seemed worried. Doc said some babies are just exhausted from the birth and to let her sleep. I should have known that this baby would be different from her siblings. Alex and Josh devoured their milk the minute they were born and put on my chest. Cassie had not a care in the world and made me wait until she was rested and ready to feed.
It was a long and frustrating night of worriedly watching over her as she slept with a few unsuccessful attempts to nurse her (she was too sleepy). I tried every few hours to wake and feed her but she was just not interested.
After breakfast the next morning, I waited until the nurses were gone and closed the curtains and tried again. This time she latched on strongly and gulped her milk like a baby who’s been feeding all her life. That was a very strange but rewarding experience to finally be able to nurse my baby!
A few hours later her Granny, big brother and big sister arrived to meet her. The kids were fascinated by how small she was. I don’t think they actually imagined how tiny a newborn baby is because they’ve never seen one. They still treat her like she’s the shiny new toy. Fighting over who gets to hold her, pick her up, help with her bath and smooch her all over.
We thank God that everything went well with the birth of our beautiful baby girl. We’re so blessed and enjoying our new life as a family of five! Thank you all for every prayer and kindness you’ve shown us during this special time!