All my life I’ve dreamed of becoming a wife and mother. I confess that when I got out of high school, all I really wanted to do was get married and have a family. But there were no prospects, and I didn’t want to sit around and wait for who knows how long till that happened. So off to college I went and I discovered life after high school was good after all.
I found ways to be around children by studying to be an elementary school teacher, and in the meantime, stumbled into love. God knows the desires of our hearts, and He surprised and delighted me with my husband.
These last two years of marriage have brought me such happiness! As I always say, marriage is good for the health, and I have been gaining better health with each year that passes by. Still, I had concerns that I would not be able to get pregnant when the time came to let it happen.
One day, out the blue, I got a phone call from my friend, Sarah Hardisty. She asked me if I had been to the doctor’s lately, or if anybody has told me I couldn’t get pregnant. It just so happened I was going to go in the next day to find out the results of a hormone test. She then told me about a dream or vision she had and felt the Lord was nudging her heart to tell me. In her vision she saw me in a delivery room holding a baby with lots of dark hair…and it was a girl.
The next day when the doctor told me that my hormone levels were not sufficient enough to sustain a pregnancy, I didn’t believe it for one second. I knew God was bigger.
Six months later I was pregnant and praising God for His miracle!
The Countdown Begins
It was a surprise; a happy one at that! We announced the news to our family a few days after we found out. My mom was so ecstatic, with cheering and tears, whereas David’s mom was quite shocked, needing a little more time to let it sink in. I especially enjoyed telling David’s grandma since she had been hinting she wanted great-grandchildren by showing us all the baby clothes she knitted for us months before.
I was excited but also a little fearful that I might lose the baby. I’ve known several gals who have miscarried, and so I felt a bit anxious for the first couple of months. But I trusted that God’s vision to Sarah would come true, and was able to have peace that He would finish what He started. Already I had to start giving this child to the Lord, for the baby was His creation whom He loved more than I could ever humanly love as a mother.
Before I knew I was pregnant, I was at a Sunnyside Grange dance in January when someone commented that I looked like I was feeling much better. I said that I was a good faker. I later realized that it was all the hormones kicking in. But by the end of January, I started to feel sick. This time it was for a happy reason.
By February, I couldn’t eat brown rice anymore without gagging. As March rolled in I grew increasingly nauseated, with occasional vomiting. Lovely. Brown rice is a staple food for me, and without it, I was desperate to find something to keep me from having hypoglycemic crashes, and keep the food in my stomach. Toasted rice waffles came to the rescue. My sleep pattern became that of waking up every two hours to painfully low blood sugar levels. I had to eat to go back to sleep…to wake up two hours later and do it all over again. The best part of March was on the 21st when I got to hear the baby’s heart beat for the first time! My pregnancy started to feel a bit more real.
When April came, I managed to go to Seattle’s Easter Swing, and actually compete in a Strictly Swing competition with David. Some friends were starting to notice the changes in my body. Thank the Lord, my nausea was mostly subsided for our trip to China in mid April. It was in Beijing that I felt the baby kick for the first time. It wasn’t until three weeks later that David could feel a kick.
We put headphones to my belly and played piano music and west coast swing music for the baby. Looking back, one of my favorite parts of pregnancy were the times when David and I were in bed and he’d lay his head on my belly to talk to the baby. The baby often kicked or pushed on his face which made us laugh. Sometimes David and the baby played a game of copying each other tapping on Mommy’s belly.
By May I was sleeping better and feeling pretty good. We had our twenty week ultrasound at which we asked that the gender of our baby be kept a surprise for us. Seeing our baby in utero was such a huge moment! I got tears of happiness in my eyes just like when I first heard the heartbeat. The baby was quite active, making it difficult for the technician to take pictures. We saw cute little hands and feet, a heart pumping fast, and we also saw a tongue stick out. David and I both thought we accidentally saw something that made us think it was a boy. But when we told each other what we saw, we both described different things, and so we were relieved that it was still a mystery.
Everywhere we went, though, people told me they were sure I was going to have a boy. I was starting to be convinced that we would indeed have a boy.
We made a trip out to Montana to visit Rachel and her family in June, and also squeezed in one last trip to Oysterville around the end of my second trimester. The baby seemed to be constantly kicking and moving around. I could feel pushing with both the hands and feet on opposite ends. Sometimes I felt like there was tap dancing, or somersaulting going on inside my belly. I often wondered what he or she was doing to keep occupied in there, and what he or she would look like.
On July 10th, I was helping David do a photo job on a 102 degree day when I had my first Braxton-Hicks contractions. I got too hot, too tired, and a little too dehydrated, which made me not able to walk very well due to a tight tummy. It was like my whole middle had a giant boa constrictor snake squeezing hard around it, and it was heavy like a bowling ball was sitting in my stomach.
August was eventful in that David won an airline ticket from his company which we could use for Rachel to come be our doula, and I was going out dancing every chance I could, knowing that it would be my last chance for a while. Sometimes, after dancing, my Braxton Hicks would be so bad that it took me a half an hour or more to get from the car into the apartment. I would have to crawl up the stairs on my hands and feet. My hormones were going a bit crazy once, and I felt so overwhelmed and frustrated that I couldn’t do something as simple as walk up the stairs. There was one time that I was half way up the stairs, bent over on my hands and feet, sobbing because I couldn’t move, and I had to pee badly. David figured out a way to carry me up the stairs after that incident.
Another Braxton Hicks incident I remember well is when we were in WinCo. I had to bend over with my hands on my knees and breathe while David got the remaining items on our list. I pretended to look at the jams and jellies on the bottom row until David finished up, and then we started the long process of getting to the car, then the stairs, the apartment, and into a warm bath and bed.
On September 3rd, David surprised me by giving me a look and saying, “Jenni, I’m ready.” After holding our friend’s baby for a long time that day, he was ready to hold our baby. September 6th I felt the baby drop and was increasingly uncomfortable and tired. By the 9th I told David I was ready. Not to complain, but I was having increased pelvic pressure, and not much sleep due to either hunger, indigestion, or frequent urination. Various weird pains, besides my false labor contractions, would come and go in my body. I was also sad that I couldn’t wear my wedding ring anymore due to swollen hands and feet.
Because of my signs of progress, Rachel decided to come out a week earlier than planned.. But once she got here, I started feeling better, with more energy and mobility. My childbirth class teacher, Linda, said that my pelvis may have relaxed around the baby’s head a bit more, which would account for me being able to walk easier.
After waiting the first week out, we decided to get out and about. The weekend before my due date, we made trips to Washington to see family, my high school reunion, and the Rose Garden.
My due date, Monday, September 24th, came and went. No baby. But it was ok with me since I knew baby would come when baby was ready. Then Tuesday and Wednesday passed by, and I was grumpier in body and spirit. I couldn’t sit on our soft bed or couch without intense pressure in my pelvis. My stomach and back ached, and I wasn’t sleeping well at all. I quit answering my phone as I didn’t want to explain that, “No, the baby hasn’t come yet. I will call you when I go to the hospital,” over and over again to well meaning friends and family.
I made myself go walking when I could. David, Rachel and I had a joke about walking up and down the stairs to help get things going. One time, Rachel took a break from cooking a garlic chicken dinner to sit on the bench in our hallway and watch me climb up and down the stairs. I commented that it became overpowering once I got up near our door, at which she asked, “Your contractions?”
“No, the garlic!”
By Thursday I was really anti-social. The midwife wanted me to come in the following Tuesday to do some testing, and talk about possible inducement. I felt that the baby was fine, and that inducement would make for a more difficult labor if my body wasn’t ready. I thought to myself, “Man! Trying to have a baby in America is stressful.” True, they are doing preventative measures that I’m sure help people, but I felt that if my pregnancy had been low risk till now, the baby and I would be ok. I resigned to make the appointment to appease the midwife, and trusted that the Lord would take care of everything.
Saturday, David took me to a pregnancy massage, which was exactly what I needed! Then we did some laundry and took a stroll to the church parking lot to sit and look at the
stars rain drops. What we didn’t know was that it would be our last date as just the two of us.
Sunday, September 30th marked my forty-first week of pregnancy and, at 11pm, I started losing my mucus plug.
I was excited that a sign of progress had finally come, but I didn’t want to get too excited in case it was still a matter of days to wait. I was feeling cramps low in my pelvis every time I woke up to pee, which was every hour or half hour through the night. All the same, I was happy to be feeling the pains. I walked the stairs again at 3:30 am to keep encouraging labor.
Monday morning, the cramps were still there. I thought, “Maybe this is it. Maybe this is what my labor contractions feel like. I thought it would feel more like the tight tummy with the bowling ball in my stomach, but I guess not. I guess that’s a good thing, though. At least I can walk around easier that way.” By the afternoon, Rachel mentioned that it seemed like I had to stop my activity about every 20 minutes to deal with the cramping sensations.
I remember thinking, “How funny. I’m having a contraction, and I’m smiling about it.” I guess I was just happy that things were finally happening. But I didn’t want to get my hopes up if it was false labor.
After a nap, I called David at 4pm to let him know that he should stay at work late to finish up anything he might need to in case he wouldn’t be able to return the next day, and that my contractions were now 10 minutes apart. I climbed the stairs for the second time that day.
As I took a walk to meet David on his walk home from work, I felt a peaceful calm in my spirit. I knew the baby was going to have to come out some time or other, and the time was drawing near. I had to stop and breathe through each contraction, but I was still smiling about it.
By 8pm that night I called my mom to tell her my contractions were 5 minutes apart. She was all bubbly and excited, and I told her I didn’t want to get too excited because the adrenaline would slow or stop my labor (if that’s what it really was). She replied in a slow, drawn out voice, “Okay… how boring. I guess I’ll pack my bag and set out my shoes, but how boring.” I was pretty sure it was labor at that point, but I didn’t know how long my early first stage would take.
The cramping grew more intense, and by 1am on Tuesday morning of October 2nd, I woke David up. I needed him near me to help me cope. A while later, we woke Rachel up. She and David took turns caring for me and getting food and water for me.
Labor was getting to be hard work. Each contraction took concentrated effort in order to relax around the pain. David was keeping me well hydrated and I was having to slow dance in his arms to the bathroom several times until I just stayed in there to conserve energy. Rachel held my right shoulder firmly, which grounded me, and David held my head because my neck was too tired to hold it up. All the while I kept hearing Linda’s voice in my head saying “Open throat – open cervix. Low voice. Bring your voice down to your baby. Let your body do the work. Relaxation helps dilation.” David and Rachel gave me verbal encouragement, and massaged me in between contractions.
Close to 3am I sensed something change in how my body felt. The next minute I began to shake uncontrollably and out of my throat came loud sobs like I’ve never sobbed before. My body took control and I couldn’t do anything about it. The strange thing is that it felt good to let my body go crazy like that.
It was after that experience that I decided I should go to the hospital. I felt that I would be better able to relax and let things progress if I were at the place where I would give birth. David massaged me in the shower for a while before he felt he could leave me to pack up the car. He called my mom, and he chuckled that she picked up after barely a ring, sounding alert and ready to go. All the packing of my food, and taking care of me in the process took a long time – so long that my parents arrived an hour later with Elizabeth, Rachel’s cousin, babysitter of Naomi for the occasion.
In our childbirth class, we were told that it was time to go to the hospital once the laboring woman didn’t want to be touched or moved. We were also told that getting her to the car would take a long time because of having to wait out contractions. I guess we varied on that because I was able to walk down the stairs and half way to the car before having to stop. We were told that the car ride would be a long ride to endure with corners and bumps in the road. But it didn’t seem as bad to me. Maybe those were signs that we went a little too early.
Actually, the wheel chair ride to the triage room was more uncomfortable than the car ride since there was no padding on the seat or shock absorbers for the wheels. Robi Quackenbush was the midwife on duty at that time and she checked my dilation. It was 3 centimeters.
“Only three?!” I said. Here I had been going through a lot of hard work and was having bloody show, which meant my cervix was dilating. I thought for sure, I would be about 5. I felt my heart sink a bit.
“Yes, it’s three but your cervix is really stretchy,” she quickly replied.
My options were to go home and come back later, be admitted now and hope I had my baby in 24 hours, or to hang out for a couple of hours to see if labor still progressed, and then decide to be admitted. Since I didn’t want to be rechecked for dilation later (it was quite painful for me!), and I felt like I should be there, we waited it out.
By 5 am I was so tired! Rachel went out to talk to my mom. David squeezed onto the little bed with me and was a great comfort to me, just by being beside me.
At 8 am Christine Barlow came to check on me. Both she and Robi offered to have me relax in the jacuzzi, but I was too afraid that my labor would slow down. They offered me a drug to help me sleep for a bit but I didn’t want that either. Christine was covering a couple of hours for the next midwife on duty that day – the one I had been praying for – Helen Welch.
We chose to be admitted and were moved to the delivery room. Dad got David some breakfast, and I ended up chowing down his scrambled eggs. I felt revived. Mom came in for a while and read some Scriptures to me.
I was trying out the birthing ball, which did not feel good to sit on at all, when Helen came to see me. She talked me into trying the jacuzzi. She said it may slow things down but it would give me a break and possibly help things happen. It was 10am at that point, and Rachel decided to go back to our apartment to nurse Naomi. David stayed with me in the low lit, warm jacuzzi room. It felt so good to get into that water! It didn’t take away my pain so much but it did slow my contractions down enough to let me get some much needed rest. David later told me that he had asked me a question and in response all he heard was snoring. At some point I needed the toilet and so I sat up to see him sitting there with his pocket PC, playing his video game he always played while waiting for my routine pregnancy check ups. I didn’t mind. I was kind of in my own world at that point.
Around 11:15am, I had been floating with my ears under water when all of a sudden,
I sat up with a gasp that startled David. “My water broke!” I had heard it and felt it at the same time, and fluid was gushing out of me.
Contractions started picking up strongly after that! I was getting louder, and kept telling myself to let my body take control no matter how painful it was. David notified Rachel and Helen of what was happening. Meanwhile, I got in a squatting position in the tub and held onto the handle bar, trying to relax and not grip it too hard.
Rachel held my right shoulder, and David held my head. My feet were hurting so I changed positions to being on my hands and knees. After Helen and David put towels under my knees, Helen encouraged me to pee in the tub if I needed to so the contractions would be less painful. I told her I already did.
“Now that’s a woman,” she exclaimed, and turned to David, “And we put our hands in it.”
The pain was becoming more than I could bear. I was having double peak contractions to where I could hardly catch my breath. The thoughts that were running through my head were, “I can’t believe how much this hurts! Is this worse than any pain I’ve felt before? Yes, but it’s got a good ending, and it will end. This is why women get epidurals! Should I get one now? By the time I get hooked up, my baby will be born. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. Jesus, help me! I know Your arms are around me right now. I feel like I’m going to throw up. Man, Rachel is pushing down on my shoulder too hard! But it’s grounding me so I’ll endure it. Wow, I can feel the baby moving down lower and lower. I feel like my tail bone is moving as the baby’s head is pushing it out of the way. Ow, ow, ow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Talking was limited to short sentences like, “Water.”
But back in my head I kept hearing Linda’s voice, “One contraction closer to my baby. Bring my voice down low to my baby. Let my body do the work, open up. Relax around the pain.” Even so, I started to despair a little. I wondered how much more of this I could take.
Just as I was telling myself I couldn’t go on, Helen encouraged me greatly by telling me, “Let that last one go with a deep cleansing breath.” It really gave me the power to put it behind me, calm down and get ready for the next one. I remember thinking, “Oh yeah. I don’t have to do that one again. And my next one won’t necessarily be exactly the same as the last one.” I had been going through transition for about 20 minutes when things changed without warning. Suddenly, in mid-contraction I shouted, ” I’m pushing!!!” I couldn’t help it. I had to push, and I was very vocal about it. I yelled quite loudly!
I pushed in the jacuzzi for a while but I wasn’t allowed to have a water birth in St. Vincent Hospital. So I had to psych myself up to heave my body that was uncontrollably giving birth out of the tub. I stood in the bathroom and pushed some. Helen “checked” my dilation. She used one finger and could feel the head, which was good enough for her and made no difference to me since I was going to push anyways. Then they wrapped blankets around me and I booked it down the hall. I was hunched over and leaning heavily on Rachel’s hands all the way to the bed in my room. I was determined to get there before having to push again, especially because I didn’t want the whole maternity floor and the people out in the waiting room to hear me.
There was no way I was getting on that bed, so I stood there, leaning over the end of it, pushing hard. The medical team were monitoring the heart beat and told me to take some deep breaths to give my baby more oxygen. That made me feel concerned. The heart beat returned to a safe level and so I pushed even harder the next contractions. The head was crowning, and Helen had David touch it. Just pushing the head out was a relief – soon it would be over and I’d be holding my baby. At that point, I heard people talking with concern for my baby’s safety again. I was told to wait. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I was growing more anxious. Apparently the cord was wrapped too tight around the neck to be moved over the head or shoulders. Helen clamped it and cut it. I was then pushing the shoulders out. I am fortunate that I only had to push for about 25 minutes, but still, what a tremendous relief! The intense pain was gone, and all I could feel was complete exhaustion and numbness. Somewhere in the haze of it all, I heard David tell me to turn around. It took a couple seconds to muster the effort to lift my head, open my eyes and turn my head. I saw two little feet, legs, and then… It’s a girl!!! I have a daughter!!!
“Hello Kadence,” I said. God’s vision to my friend was true!
The events that followed were stressful and makes me cry to dwell on them, and so I will say that even through the struggles our family went through, I thank the Lord that He is God and in control. I knew He was taking care of Kadence when she had too much fluid in her lungs and was on machines to help her breathe. I knew that God had carried us all the way through the pregnancy and birth, and that He would be faithful to care for His new little creation whom He loves deeply. He knows her future.
The nurses were going to wheel Kadence down to the NICU, but Helen asked them to bring the cart she was on over to my bedside so I could at least touch her and tell her I loved her, and that everything was going to be ok. At that point, I had peace and confidence that she would be ok; that she just needed more time to get to breathing better.
Helen took care of my placenta, and gave me three stitches in my perineum but left the other tares inside to heal for themselves. No wonder I was yelling so loud! Her instructions to me were to not go running up and down stairs or doing the splits for a while.
Jessica and my mom asked a nurse how I was doing and were surprised when they were let in the room. They were even more shocked when I told them I had a girl. They didn’t know I had finished giving birth, especially since I didn’t have a baby in my arms. They were overjoyed that I had a daughter and stayed with me in the delivery room to share joyful tears.
When an hour (or what felt like an hour) had passed, and I hadn’t heard any news, I was growing really anxious to see my baby. After David and the doctor returned to tell me her state and make some decisions about her treatments, I kicked Dad and Travis out of the room so I could get dressed and go to the NICU to see her. My heart broke as I watched her struggle to breathe through the fluid that was bubbling out of her lips. Oh how I prayed and cried.
It wasn’t until 5 hours later, when she was off of the C-pap machine that I got to hold Kadence. David found me down in the NICU trying to breastfeed her, though she was still too sluggish to latch on. I was sad that she had such a rough start, but thanking God she was not expelling bubbles out of her mouth anymore, and was breathing on her own. She was a fighter.
Kadence stayed in the NICU to be monitored for the next 24 hours. It was very difficult to learn how to breastfeed when she had wires attaching her body to the machines. But she did well, and my milk came in two days later. I was relieved when I could bring my baby into our postpartum room to stay the night with us on Wednesday. I had hated going to sleep without her in the room with us the night before. All I wanted was for her to be safe in my arms. I was even happier on Thursday when we got to go home together. The hospital staff were excellent, but it wasn’t very restful staying there with all the nurses and specialists coming and going.
There are things that I was not prepared for in the first several weeks following giving birth. Things like my raging hormones that caused acne, hot sweats that soaked my bed, and the emotions that make you think crazy things sometimes. My body felt like it had been through a train wreck, and my legs hurts so much! My neck and head hurt pretty badly too, as I couldn’t help but look down at my sweet baby while nursing her. I also struggled with an infection in my torn perineum, among other things that are TMI. Add exhaustion, and engorgement on top of that, and I was quite miserable. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t as painful as giving birth. Wow, I can now say I have crossed that milestone in my life!
Even though the following month was quite a struggle for me, knew it was worth it every time I looked at my beautiful daughter. At our postpartum checkup four days after birth, Kadence had already surpassed her birth weight of 7 pounds 7 ounces (she had been 19 inches long at birth).
It’s been 7 weeks and five days now. I’ve gotten some physical therapy for my body, and more sleep as Kadence is sleeping longer. Things are getting better and better, and her smiles send rainbows and sunshine into my heart.
This Thanksgiving weekend I have had so much gratitude in my heart for the blessings God’s given me. I don’t know how to express with words, the the awe at what He’s done in my life. He is so faithful! He carried me through pregnancy and birth to a healthy child. He carried me through the transition into caring for a newborn that I didn’t have the strength to do on my own. He gave me an amazing husband to be with me through it all, and care for me and Kadie almost nonstop for the first month or so. Both of our parents helped us stay afloat with cooking and cleaning, as well as dear friends who have beautiful servants hearts. Generous relatives, friends and coworkers gave us gifts in abundance. And He gave me my dream come true with Kadence. God is so good to us, I can’t help but sing in my heart to the Lord, every day.
“A woman giving birth has pain because her time has come; but when the baby is born she forgets her anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” John 16:21