On Wednesday morning, I got a call from my doctor’s office with an appointment for my scheduled induction the following week. My kids and I continued the morning with school like usual. Over the last 5-6 weeks of this pregnancy, I could tell my body was preparing for labor. There were contractions that didn’t lead anywhere as well as just a general feeling of discomfort. This day was no different. I had some contractions in the morning – and although they weren’t regular, they were rather uncomfortable.
I decided it was a good time to paint my toenails in case it did turn out to be labor day. I always feel better going into labor with freshly painted toenails…it’s just a happy sight to look down and see a fun color on my toes during all the pain. It also provides an extra opportunity to practice flexibility as painting toenails over a 9 month pregnant belly is no small feat.
Around 11:30, I was incredibly hungry – like the shaky “must eat now” kind. I ate some leftovers from the night before (fish tacos. yum.), then sat on the couch with Nate to finish his reading lesson.
12:15ish: Nate was sounding out words and I suddenly had a HELLO-HOW-YA-DOIN contraction. A couple more came and then Jonathan stopped home for lunch. I told him I was in pain, but wasn’t sure if it was labor. When he popped in a couple minutes later and I couldn’t talk through the contraction, I decided it must be labor.
Here’s the problem. I had only been having contractions for 8 minutes. My doctor’s office told me repeatedly to track contractions for an hour before calling them. I could tell this was no time to follow protocol. I called and told the nurse, “I’m having contractions. I’ve only had them for 8 minutes, but they’re every 2-3 minutes and painful enough that I can’t talk through them. This is my 4th baby. We’re on our way.”
Bless her heart, she tried to follow protocol and told me “the doctors are on lunch break from 1-2. There aren’t any free appointments after that, but if you come and wait in the office, we can try to squeeze you in.”
Our sweet neighbor came over to watch my three older babies so Jonathan and I could leave right away. It was a quiet drive to the hospital area as I worked through contractions. Once we arrived, my contractions were still painful, but had tamed a bit in intensity level (like they always do when I leave for the hospital). We slowly walked to my doctor’s office and checked in. It was around 1:30 at this time. I walked in the waiting area, breathing through each contraction. A few minutes later a nurse called out to see how I was doing. I said fine – and then clarified that I was having regular contractions 2-3 minutes apart. They called me back a few minutes later. A labor and delivery nurse was on duty that day, so she decided to check me in since the doctors were still on lunch break. I LOVE YOU, LABOR AND DELIVERY NURSE.
When she announced I was dilated to a 6, almost 7, they promptly whizzed me to labor and delivery via a wheelchair. Bless you, wheelchair whizzing lady. Once I got to my room and they got me strapped with the baby & contraction monitor, I settled in the hospital bed. During my 3 other labors, a nurse has stayed in the room with me pretty much the whole time. But on this day, my nurse got me all set up and then left Jonathan and I alone in the room. At first, it was weird. I thought, “What if this baby pops out and we’re left alone for delivery?!?!”
But then I began to enjoy the alone time. I kept working through contractions and Jonathan sat next to me. I do best in labor when I can get in a zone and intentionally prepare for and work through each contraction, so I was doing my thing while he worked on emails. I’ve never listened to music before during labor, but decided to use my earbuds and just sit in bed for a while to keep my labor from progressing too quickly. Not because I didn’t want to have the baby, but because I didn’t want to go through the pain of her coming out of my body.
I realize that sounds rather comical to put off the actual delivery – obviously I was going to give birth and there was no re-thinking that plan – so just get it over with, right? But this turned out to be one of my favorite birth experiences because of how “restful” the few hours were before Karis arrived. I write “restful” in quotation marks because I was still having regular, painful contractions. I mean, it wasn’t exactly a spa-like experience. But much more restful than any of my other labors have been.
I used those hours to listen to music, rehearse verses (this one especially), ask God for help, and thank Him for sustaining this little life inside me for 20 weeks longer than we thought she would live. It was a special – and very worshipful – time remembering God’s character and promises.
After a few hours, I decided I could either keep sitting in bed and have this baby super late, or I could get up and make things happen. Seeing as there was no way for me to escape the pain of delivery, I decided now was better than later.
As soon as I got out of bed, I felt my contractions pick up in intensity. I continued moving (using a birthing ball for support) and started feeling even more intense contractions. The doctor popped in to see how much I was dilated. 9. Almost there. My water had already broken during the contractions, but once the doctor saw I was at a 9/almost 10, she broke the other bag of water. Things just got real, my friends.
My nurse paged for “more hands and warm towels” and I was both delighted and scared to know it was time to push. The doctor told me to push several times, then said, “Almost there!” I’ve trained myself to never believe that line during labor because you don’t know what it actually means. However, in this case, we were almost there. With another big push, our little Karis Faith arrived into this world – wet, red, squealing, and absolutely perfect. 6:48 PM. 8 lbs 5.5 oz. 20 inches.
When my water broke at 20 weeks, I wouldn’t let myself think ahead to delivery. Mentally, I couldn’t handle thinking about how incredible it would be to hold Karis after wondering for so long whether she would even make it out alive. So when her little body was placed on my chest – still wet and fresh from birth – it was emotional overload. I praised God, looked at Jonathan, held Karis, and just cried. There really are no words to adequately describe those first moments in any birth, but especially in this one for me.
We chose the name Karis Faith because of all God has taught us through this little one’s life. Karis means grace.
Grace and Faith. If you’ve been reading this site for any period during the last few months, you already know how much those two words have just exploded in meaning for me. God’s grace isn’t limited to good circumstances, as He taught me so vividly when I was in the hospital and thought Karis was going to die. His character isn’t determined by my circumstances. He is gracious…no matter what happens. But it takes faith to believe that. Something I struggle with daily. It takes faith to believe that God is good when I don’t see it right in front of me. And that God is loving when the things happening to/around me shout otherwise. Sometimes I feel ridiculous because I have to ask God for help to even believe Him. I can’t even believe Him and His promises unless He enables me.
The beautiful thing I have learned is that God does enable me to have faith. To believe that He is in complete control and deeply loves me. To harness my emotions and thoughts that scream the opposite. And to instead rest in His good sovereignty. The fact that He is able to work in my stubborn heart is all due to His incredible grace. Grace that saved my soul and draws me near to my Savior. I trust you know Jesus and have experienced His grace at work in your life.
I cannot end this birth story without telling you how much your prayer support has meant to me. To know that people I’ve never even met have been praying so faithfully for Karis is humbling. Thank you for joining with us by your encouragement, love and prayers. I’m so grateful for God’s love displayed through YOU!