Birth Knot: Promises Kept

Birth Knot Cord

One week after starting maternity leave, we were blessed with the arrival of our beautiful baby girl. That week was frantic as something in my mind and body knew that it was the last few days before our lives would be changed forever. I cleaned the house from top to bottom, I got the nursery/office all set up and prepared, I ran the errands that I knew I did not want to have to run or send my husband out to run with a newborn, and Andrew and I spent lots of time together. We went out to eat, saw several movies we had been meaning to see, and went to a Rockies game.

After such a full week, I was feeling great as the weekend began. As Saturday drew to a close, I felt energized and normal. I told Andrew that, whereas the previous week I had felt that our daughter was going to come at any minute, I was now seriously wondering if she was going to come on her own freewill at all!

We had a great day and went to bed WAY too late (1 AM). At 2:30 AM I woke up and went to the restroom, a very common function for a pregnant woman in the middle of the night. However, this time, there was blood. For those who know my history with pregnancy losses, this terrified me. I woke Andrew and we called the doctor. He told us to come down to the hospital to get checked out to make sure that the baby was fine. We ran around the house and threw things into backpacks, just in case we had to stay. I felt like I was having a heavy period and my back would ache occasionally. However, I had no idea that these were actually contractions, I was expecting something in my gut hurting not in my back.

We arrived at the hospital at about 3:30 AM. They hooked me up to the monitors and baby's heartbeat looked great to our immense relief. We knew that if anything was wrong, they would be able to take the baby out via C-Section but hearing the steady beat of her heart filled us with so much comfort. The nurse checked my cervix and I was only dilated 1 cm and only barely effaced with contractions at about 7-8 minutes apart. Andrew and I both knew that this meant we were indeed in labor but would be sent home until we had progressed further. The nurse left the room to call the doctor to verify what he wanted us to do. In that space of time, I felt three gushes of fluid, my water broke and we were staying put.

Our doctor dropped by at about 10 AM that morning and checked my progress. Unfortunately, I was not progressing as quickly as he wanted. After your water breaks, doctors like to have the baby delivered within 24-hours to avoid infection. I was still only 1 cm dilated with sporadic contractions. I was given oral misoprostol to help soften my cervix. After four hours, I had dilated to 4 cm. Next, I was put on pitocin to increase my contractions. With the pitocin came a lot more pain.

I had been placed on bed rest because the doctors could only get a consistent reading of the baby's heartbeat when I was lying down. This was most likely caused by the placenta being in the way of the monitors causing the readings to be faint when I was in a sitting or moving position. The baby's heartbeat was healthy and strong however the nurses were not seeing enough variation in the baby's wake patterns and therefore they wanted to keep a constant eye on her activity to ensure that she was receiving enough oxygen. To make sure that the baby was receiving enough oxygen, I was periodically given the oxygen mask to wear.

I had planned to get an epidural from the start. With all the possible complications that could occur during delivery, I decided that I would prefer to be on a heavy pain killer just in case. However, I knew that I could not be on an epidural indefinitely and therefore decided to wait as long as possible to minimize the risk of needing a C-section. After 12-hours of labor without pain killers, I requested the epidural. I knew that we still had a long way to go and my contractions were getting to the point of not having long enough rests in between. If I didn't get some rest now, I felt that I probably would be too exhausted to push when the time came and I did not want any assistance via suction or forceps.

After I got the epidural, I felt no pain and slept as much as I could for the next 10 hours. It was glorious. The only uncomfortable part was feeling like I had no control over my legs. I could move my feet but lifting my legs was very difficult. That mostly bothered me mentally rather than physically. Andrew was extremely relieved when I started being able to rest and sleep. There is no doubt in my mind that he will encourage me to get an epidural in the future too.

It was amazing, I knew when it was time to begin pushing. I told the nurse that I felt like I was telling my body to not push and that I felt like the baby was right there. She checked and yep, I was ready to go. We were now ready to push, the part that I had been most terrified of for the last 9-months. How was I supposed to get a child out of me through such a small opening??? However, as soon as I started to push, it was the best feeling in the world. I was finally actively doing something. I felt strong and in control of my body and ready to meet my child. It was glorious. Ok, it probably helped that I was also on pain medication! I remember saying to myself, "This is it, Esther. You are going to get this kid out and as fast as possible."

I pushed for an hour and a half. My contractions were still sporadic and sometimes there would be a back to back contraction and other times we had to wait five minutes for another one to start. However, it felt like no time at all. I was so happy to be doing something, to finally be in the home stretch of bringing my daughter into the world. Andrew was there the whole time, helping me push and supporting me. He was so excited and thrilled when he was able to first see our baby girl's head. With one final push, our baby entered the world with a little annoyed cry. The doctor suctioned out her mouth and nostrils and rubbed her back and within seconds we heard her loud and throaty cry. I started crying as soon as I heard her cry and exclaimed, "Oh thank God! Thank you, God." I had been holding my breath, praying for it even though it only took a second to hear. With its sound, I knew that everything was fine and that God had blessed us with a healthy baby girl.

And when I say healthy, I mean HEALTHY! Our daughter was born two days before her due date and weighed 8 pounds 9.6 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. Turns out my belly was all baby! All healthy, squirmy baby. Andrew cut the cord and the nurse placed her on my chest. Instantly, her head was up and looking for food and five minutes later she was nursing. I looked at Andrew and asked if she looked like a Liesl. We both agreed she did and we named her Liesl Joy.

Losing two children to early miscarriage and being diagnosed with MTHFR has been one of the greatest challenges given to me by God. The pain of loss and the fear of the unknown has been so great. Every month, every day, every hour was a test of faith and giving over my anxiety to Christ that our child would indeed be born into this world and healthy. However, at the same time, I knew that I had to have peace with whatever outcome God chose. I will tell you this, I did not do well most days in the faith and peace category. However, God got me to the finish line and blessed us beyond anything that I could have imagined.

The first time we came across the name Liesl while searching for baby names, Andrew and I immediately loved the way it sounded (pronounced LEE-ZL). When we read the meaning of the name, we were sold. Liesl means "God's Promise." After the loss of our first child, James, God brought me a lot of comfort from the Psalm 30:5:

                                                    "For his anger is but for a moment,
                                                        and his favor is for a lifetime.
                                                      Weeping may tarry for the night,
                                                      but joy comes with the morning." 

I felt in my heart that this verse was God's promise to Andrew and I. That there would be suffering according to His great purpose but that He would also grant us joy in the future. This verse is Liesl's birth verse and also her middle name. 

It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce to you all our beautiful blessing, our little miracle, God's promise of joy in our lives-Liesl Joy.