Merritt Elizabeth Cockram | October 23, 2016 | 6 lbs, 21 in long
Merritt Elizabeth is finally here! She wasted no time, arriving two days before her due date after only 13.5 hours of labor (I will thank her for that one day).
Early in my pregnancy I decided against creating a specific birth plan and instead just prayed for a safe labor and delivery and a healthy baby. That’s all I wanted, and I am so happy to report that those prayers were answered!
My first sign that labor was near came on Wednesday, October 19, when I started to lose my mucus plug. I had my 39-week prenatal appointment the next day, and my Dr. and I agreed that since I hadn’t experienced any other signs that I didn’t need to be checked for progress. I went about the rest of my week as usual, fully expecting that I would make it to my appointment the following week and deliver that weekend. Spoiler alert: I was wrong!
Jesse & I went to dinner with his parents on the night of the 22nd. I felt some tightening in my abdomen while we were eating but didn’t think much of it because it wasn’t painful. I assumed it was Braxton Hicks contractions since I hadn’t experienced those thus far in my pregnancy. We came home after dinner, started some baby laundry, and settled in to watch the Cubs game. By 9pm the contractions had become slightly painful and were coming more frequently. They were much more painful by 11:00 so I downloaded an app to start timing them and they were about 13 minutes apart. I timed them for the next hour and they got closer and closer together. By 1am, I met the 5-1-1 criteria (5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour) to call the hospital, but I could barely talk so Jesse called and let a nurse know what was going on and she told him that I could head that way and be checked!
Jesse did a great job of gathering our hospital bags and getting me into the car. The ride to the hospital was one of the most miserable experiences, but Jesse was so supportive and helpful through each of my contractions. When we arrived at the hospital I was taken to triage. I changed into a gown and got hooked up to monitors for me and baby. We looked great so the nurse checked my cervix – I was 100% effaced but only 3cm dilated. I was disappointed because they typically don’t admit until you’re at 4cm, but the nurse graciously decided to keep me the triage room a little longer to see if I could make enough progress to be admitted.
Around 3am I had a really intense contraction that caused me to be sick. I remembered our birthing class instructor saying that getting sick is a tell-tale sign that you’re in active labor . The nurse checked me again and even though I still hadn’t progressed to a 4 they went ahead and admitted me – the only time in my life I’ve been thankful for vomit!
We got settled into our delivery suite around 3:30am. I was offered an epidural and I immediately accepted. I told myself that I would labor medication-free for as long as I could stand it, and I had reached my limit. They also gave me a small dose of IV pain medicine while I waited on the anesthesiologist. I’m so glad they did, too,because it took almost 2 hours to get my epidural! Sometime during that two hours I was checked again and had progressed to a 5.
My epidural was administered at 5:15am and afterwards I was finally able to rest a bit even though I couldn’t fall sleep for anything. Our family began arriving around 8:00am. By 9:00 I was dilated to a 7. My nurse offered to have my doctor break my water because my sac was bulging, and she said it could speed the labor process by up to an hour. I didn’t hesitate to say yes! After she broke my water I laid on each side for 30 minutes with the peanut ball. My doctor came in at 10am, checked me, and gave me the good news that I was finally fully dilated! She said the monitor showed that my contractions had spaced out a bit so I could just labor down for the next hour and we would monitor my contractions.
Literally 5 minutes later, my team came back and said my contractions had jumped to one minute apart so it was time to push! They quickly prepared the room for delivery, we said goodbye to our family, and got ready to have a baby! Jesse and my doctor and nurse gave me so much encouragement as I pushed and before I knew it she was crowning and then she was here! Jesse did take one peek as she crowned to confirm that she didn’t have red hair (his most irrational fear throughout my pregnancy LOL), and I was able to reach down and feel her head. I only had to push for 15-20 minutes and I am so thankful that I didn’t have to go any longer because it was honestly so difficult to do when I couldn’t feel anything.
They immediately placed her on my chest and we were able to have skin-to-skin time. I was in shock because she was so tiny! Because of my gestational diabetes (more on that later), I was expecting a much larger child! Jesse cut her umbilical cord, the nurses checked her vitals, cleaned her, and took her official measurements, and my doctor repaired the small tear I received. We were able to spend around two hours with just her and our team. Our hospital placed a big emphasis on this bonding time and it was so, so special. We cuddled and nursed and just existed in awe of our perfect daughter.
After that sweet time as a new family of three, our guests came back to meet her. There were many tears as I watched our parents and friends love her so well. We are blessed with the best support system!
The rest of our hospital stay was spent learning how to care for our sweet babe, starting the healing process for this mama, and visiting with our people. We were discharged on Merritt’s due date, October 25th!
Only now do I understand what people mean when they say that you don’t know a love like this until your child is born, and I completely get why every parent believes their child is the most perfect being that ever lived. God’s love for us has never been more apparent and I pray that I can show Merritt that love every day.