My labor started a week ago today. I went to see my midwife on Thursday morning, and we decided to meet at the hospital at 9:30 that night, to induce labor. Friday morning was already booked for inductions, and I didn’t want to wait for Friday afternoon! I was already a week and six days overdue. If we were going to induce, I didn’t see a point in waiting another 16 hours. Plus, I really wanted my mom, who was leaving the next day, to meet Mercy before she left. Mom had been staying with me for almost 4 weeks, helping out as I waited for a baby to be born. I told Mom it would be OK if she left, and just came back in two weeks to meet Mercy. But then I started crying in my midwife’s office, thinking about mom leaving me now, right before Mercy’s birth, and I realized I really wanted my mom to be here!
I called Derek and told him we were going to the hospital that night. I went home and took a long nap. thinking I’d be up all night with heavy contractions. Derek was coming home mid-afternoon, so I walked out to meet him. Maybe walking would help kick-start labor! (I’d been having some mild contractions off and on for days, but nothing that stuck.) On Thursday morning, the Psalm I happened to read was Psalm 136 where the whole chapter, every single verse, repeats “…for His mercy endureth forever.” It was a beautiful cadence as I walked and pondered this upcoming birth.
Derek and I left for the hospital at 8:45PM. It was SO weird not to be in the middle of heavy labor on that trip to the hospital! On all of our other hospital drives, I would have to grip the door handle and focus on breathing every 5 minutes. By the time we usually arrived at the hospital, I was halfway through labor! It was very different starting at ground zero.
By the time I got checked in, answered questions so the nurses could fill out paperwork, and got hooked up to the monitors for the necessary 20 minutes, it was 10:30PM before Rosie gave me my first suppository of Cytotec. I was only 1 1/2 centimeters when I arrived at the hospital, so the plan was for this pill to dilate my cervix and start contractions in earnest. I was supposed to get Cytotec every 4 hours, and that should be all it took to be ready to have a baby! I fell asleep, Derek fell asleep, and Rosie went and fell asleep somewhere in her little corner of the hospital. (My poor midwife, by Thursday night, had already slept at the hospital for 3 nights instead of driving home over the mountain. This was her forth baby that week!) When Rosie came to check on me at 2:30am, I was 2 centimeters dilated, and the monitor was showing good contractions every 5 to 7 minutes. Rosie said that should do it, and she wasn’t going to give me another pill or the contractions would become too intense. She went back to sleep, Derek kept sleeping, and I read a magazine and played Candy Crush. Then I went back to sleep as well. When Rosie came to check on me at 6:30AM, I woke up and we discovered that the contractions had rather petered out! I felt so guilty for sleeping instead of being awake with heavy labor! I had dilated another centimeter though, to a 3.
Rosie told me to take a shower and eat breakfast, and then she’d put me on a low dose of Pitocin. I can’t remember what time she started Pitocin, but again, it was so weird to have time to eat and shower at the hospital before baby! Once I started Pitocin, I had to be hooked up to the IV, obviously, and the maternal/fetal monitor. Constantly. I wanted to try relaxing in the tub, so we hooked my belly up to the portable monitor, and wheeled my tank of pit down the hall to the tub room. This is where, if I’m honest, I thought, “Gosh, a home birth without all these straps and tanks and monitors would be really nice!”
The tub was a hoot! It’s a huge, claw foot monster. Very nice, probably, for taller mamas. My feet came nowhere near the other end of the tub, so unless I stretched my toes out to provide that pressure, my whole body came floating up to the top of the water! Not super relaxing. My arms, too, kept falling asleep; since propped up on the side of the tub, they were significantly higher than the rest of my body. And, since my 42 week pregnant belly was so round, the straps kept sliding down and losing baby’s heartbeat. Not acceptable. Rosie, the nurse, and Derek kept having to push the straps up and hold them in place, just so we could keep Mercy’s hearbeat on the monitor.
I stayed in the tub for a while though, and laughed with Derek about how I kept popping up. And the fact that we’d probably be in big trouble if he carried me back to our room. He offered to carry me back, since my contractions were definitely getting stronger. I had to stop 4 times on the way back to our room. I was headed to my bed to curl up into a ball, when Rosie asked if i wanted to sit instead. i could tell she really wanted me to sit instead of lie down, so I sat in the pull-out chair/bed next to Derek. A few contractions sitting there, and I could feel pelvis pressure getting stronger and stronger. I told Rosie I wanted to get in bed after the next contraction, so she could check and see where we were at with dilation. When she did, she said, “Oh honey, you’re a good 9 centimeters!” She started prepping for delivery, and told me I could start pushing whenever I felt like it.
Once I couldn’t breath through contractions without extreme pressure, I said, “I want to push now.” Two pushes later and we had a baby! At 12:14PM. On my second push, my water broke, and then Rosie told me to stop while she lifted a cord over Mercy’s neck. I still had enough push to get Mercy out completely, and she cried right away. Rosie waited a minute to cut the cord, so Mercy would get all of her cord blood. She put Mercy up to my chest, and my heart and world just stopped to breathe her in. She was so beautiful. She didn’t want to nurse, which was good since she was fairly blue and needed to cry some oxygen into her lungs. The nurses kept rubbing her with a towel to make her cry, which she did splendidly, while Rosie worked on delivering my placenta. It took forever for my placenta to release! When it finally did, Rosie said it was the largest placenta she’d seen in a long time! My nurse said it was probably the largest she’d ever seen. God was taking care of my sweet baby girl.
Derek asked to see the two-vessel cord, and I remember glancing over at him and Rosie examining the monster placenta and the cord attached to it. But then I couldn’t keep my eyes off my beautiful daughter, still cuddled on my chest. The nurses still weren’t happy with Mercy’s blueness, so I said they could give her oxygen. They gave her back to me immediately, because I still wanted to soak her newness in, for a long time, before they weighed her and bathed away the newborn signs of birth. She snuggled up on my chest, skin on skin, cozy under a shared blanket, and we just stared at each other. She was alert and quiet for a long time, just looking around at her new world.
I finally gave her up to be weighed, and bathed. She weighed 8lbs, 1 oz, and was 19 inches long. A little while later Rosie thought I might want to take a shower. I remember thinking how funny it was that I’d had 2 showers and a bath in less than 12 hours!
My parents, Derek’s parents, and the rest of our 5 kids came to visit us late afternoon, and of course the kids loved their new sister to pieces! Zach was the first to hold Mercy, and if it was up to him, he never would have let go. He adores her! The kids took turns holding Mercy, ate all of my hospital food up for me, and left with the promise of pizza on the way home. I think a few of them were sad that Mommy, Daddy, and Mercy had to stay in the hospital another night, since we’ve only ever stayed one night with previous births. Derek and I celebrated with pizza of our own, with jalapeno peppers for me, and some decent coffee. I never give my babies a chance to develop food intolerance while nursing!
So we’re home now, relaxing as a family. Derek took the whole week off of work, and it’s been nice to bond as a new family of eight. Mercy has been a great nighttime sleeper right from the start! She sleeps draped across me all night, waking only to eat, and finally opens her adorable eyes around 7:30 — 8:00AM. She’s such a gem!
The day she was born, Friday, July 19th, my kitchen calendar’s verse for the day read, “O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may be glad and rejoice all our days.” Psalm 90:14
I’ve been singing to Mercy the song from Micah 6:8: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” We’ve been soaking up these cool July nights, outside on the swing. My sweet baby girl has already, in her short life, reminded me to model God’s heart in my interaction with my husband and kids. He is a gracious God, full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy. It’s a mercy new every morning, and my prayer for my newest daughter is that she clings to these promises and truly understands the heart of God so she can spread His love to the whole wide world.