Daniel’s Birth Day

Dear Daniel,

Wasn’t it just a few days ago that I glanced at the clock in the early hours of the morning and realized it was the 14th of the month, and thus you were 2 months old?  How can tomorrow already mark you turning 3 months old?  It’s been quite the 3 months, little man.  Which I suppose gives Mommy an excuse for just finally finishing the story of your birth.  I mean, after all, we have already had another hospital stay with you since then!  But here I am, finally, on the eve of your 3-month-birthday, going back through the details of the day of your birth one more time…  (Laughing as I do, because you are my son, and I’m sure I’m writing this more for your future wife than for you because what boy wants to read his own birth story, at least before he has kids of his own?!)

The thing is, the story of your birth day doesn’t start with April 14th—no, it starts much earlier, when Mommy first started having signs of toxemia again.  So in order to show all the ways God took care of you, and how many prayers He answered, I want to share parts of the emails I sent to family and friends in the weeks leading up to your birth…  You can see how anxious we were for your safe arrival—and how many people were praying for you!

April 2

At my appointment Thursday morning (March 31), I had slightly elevated blood pressure (122/80—my normal is 110/65 at most), a trace of protein, and some swelling.  (Though I’d only gained 2 pounds in the previous 2 weeks, a huge improvement from what I gained—apparently in water retention—during the 3 weeks of travel.)  Baby’s head is definitely all the way down, but I wasn’t even a centimeter dilated.  I mentioned to the doctor that my family had appointments and such through the 19th of April, and she said, “There is no way it’s going to wait that long.”  Ohhhhhhhkay…!

I was measuring 36 weeks (according to the very subjective tape measure on tummy routine).  According to the one-size-fits-all way the doctor calculates my due date, I’m due April 22, and 37 weeks along.  I knew that wasn’t very accurate this time around, and have thus been going by what I knew to be more realistic: a May 6 due date, putting me at only 35 weeks along.  So I was rather concerned realizing toxemia symptoms were coming and this little one might have to be induced so soon, when it might not be as ready as it should be.

The doctor sent me to the hospital for a whole bunch of blood work to check on the toxemia symptoms further, and for a non-stress test and ultrasound.  Baby performed fabulously during the non-stress test, having a heart rate anywhere from 130 to 170 as it moved around (though tending to the low 150’s and high 140’s when more calm).  I was apparently rather stressed during the non-stress test, having a blood pressure of 139/97.

Here's the little one's profile in the ultrasound today, in which the very active child measured even further along.Thankfully there was an opening for an ultrasound that afternoon, so I could just stay in town.  The tech asked if my hips hurt, the baby was so far down there!  The tech also informed me I was having a Very Active Child.  (But he was good and did not reveal the gender, and no, I’m not good enough to tell on that blurry screen!)  According to the auto-calculations and averages of the computer’s measurements of the ultrasound, Baby is even further advanced than 37 weeks—the computer gave me a due date of April 13.  The tech said he’d like to see me wait at least another week for the sake of the baby’s lungs, though.  (And Merritt and I were remembering that with the last-minute ultrasound of Ru they estimated her weighing way more than she did—but when the head is so far down it’s hard to measure it accurately!)

So, I go back into the doctor Monday morning at 9:15.  We’ll find out what the results of the tests are, her interpretation of the ultrasound reading, etc.  As well as how all my signs are reading.  (And I’m sure I’ll have another non-stress test as I’m supposed to have those 2 times a week now.) She told me Thursday she wasn’t putting me on complete bed rest yet.  I suppose she knows how impossible that would be.  (Her definition of complete bed rest with Ru was laying down on my left side, only getting up for 5 minutes once per hour.)  Of course, the nurse informed me that if I wasn’t good, they’d just put me in the hospital to make me be good.  Yeah….not a fun idea.  But neither are all the symptoms of toxemia.

The big praise was that the baby is further along than even the doctor’s calculations, and certainly much further than I was fearing based upon when I knew conception most likely took place.  If I do manage to go full term, we may have a giant-size baby on our hands!

The concerns are that my blood pressure is high and the contractions frequent whenever I’m up and around (my mother-in-law has a blood pressure monitor, so I can keep an eye on it—tho sometimes I think knowing how high it is makes it worse!).  I’m also having a bit of a headache, yet another symptom of toxemia.  So I’m not real positive that the doctor is going to tell me all is well on Monday.  Just praying we can hold on with just bed rest for another week or two to let this baby get as developed as it needs to be.

April 4

Thank you all SO much for your prayers.  They are obviously working, because I went into the doctor this morning, and not only was there not a trace of protein, but my blood pressure was nice and low and every single test result from Thursday came back normal.  I was seriously prepared to not come home today, but to be induced instead!  So thankful.

I’m supposed to keep taking it easy and keep an eye on my blood pressure and swelling, but as long as I don’t have any other abnormal symptoms, I don’t go back into the doctor until next Monday.  I do have to keep having the non-stress tests twice a week, but Baby did fabulously again this morning (even tho once again my blood pressure was up at the hospital).

I have been having a lot of contractions over the weekend (getting stronger and more painful each bout), so many that my husband kept thinking he might be taking me in before this morning.  But last night I ate a bowl of ice cream and that stopped them and I was able to get a good night’s sleep, for which I was very thankful!  The doctor checked me this morning and said I’m still only barely 1cm, and that even though the baby is head down it’s still doing plenty of moving around and isn’t necessarily hanging out ready for delivery.

So that means I just keep taking it easy and let this baby grow bigger and stronger and go into labor naturally when it’s the right time!  We might make it to some of these family birthdays later in the month yet. 😉  At least now I have my bags all packed and ready to go. 🙂

April 7

Another non-stress test today, and Baby did well.  Though it was sleeping at first and had to be awakened by Mommy drinking lots of cranberry juice before it would finally perform and show off its heart rate!

Just a quick note to ask you to pray for health and rest for us all.  Mary has some sort of cold bug (though not croupy like Ru had, thankfully), and we slept exactly an hour and a half last night.  Her nap today was all of 30 minutes.  Needless to say, we’re all a little exhausted.  And, Merritt’s dad feels like he’s getting a cold bug, too.

Obviously, none of us want to get sick…and I don’t want to go into labor on this little sleep…  So prayers would be appreciated.  Thankfully, though, the contractions have been a lot less lately.  Tomorrow will be 38 weeks by the doctor’s calculations, so I’m very glad to have given those little lungs another week!

Truly, I’ve been in and out of that hospital and delivery room so many times for so many tests, I’m having a hard time remembering I still have to go back and give birth to this baby—I feel like it must already be done. 😉  Off to finish making some soup for dinner and wipe a little nose…

April 11

Well, folks, Baby does not appear to be in any hurry.  The doctor said, “Well, you might make it to the 19th after all!”  Yes, the same one who a week and a half ago told me there was no way baby was waiting until the 19th when my family’s schedule was all clear. 😉

According to the ultrasound, baby was in the 7-pound range.  So the doctor figured by next week it will be an 8-pounder.  I said, “Well, maybe I’ll be having a baby more the size of my mom’s!”  She innocently asked, “Did your mom have 8-pounders?”  And all my family knows what a joke that is. 😉  I explained that I was quite her smallest at nearly 9 pounds…!  I’m also keeping in mind that the late-pregnancy ultrasound over-estimated Ru’s size by a good bit, so I’m not too worried about birthing a giant yet. 😉

I’m a “stretchy 1” but not even 2 CM dilated.  Blood pressure was up again today, at the doctor’s and the hospital for the non-stress test.  But I’m sure it couldn’t have anything to do with the stress of the past week…!

Very thankful for another good night’s sleep last night.  I am just so thankful that I have not gone into labor in this past week.  I would have demanded drugs to make it through the labor—I’ve just been that exhausted. 🙂  I’m also very thankful that Merritt and I have miraculously stayed healthy!!  Now if we could all just catch up on sleep… 🙂

Thanks all muchly for your prayers.  Stay tuned.  I’m supposed to notify my dad by noon on the day I plan to go into labor so he can get some things loaded in my mom’s car before he leaves for work.  So when I notify him I’ll be sure to notify y’all, too. 😉 😉

April 12

Mother’s helper Becca here today.  Did 5 loads of laundry.  Even hung a load on the clothesline!  Slightly overdid it—exhausted by evening.

April 13

Woke up to the news that my brother Caleb is having his appendix out this morning.  Thankful Baby hasn’t decided to come yet, since my mom is slightly occupied in another hospital.  Nausea and headache off and on all day—not good, because those are more symptoms of toxemia.  But I hoped it was just from over-doing it the day before, and that a good night’s sleep would take care of it all…

April 14, your birth day!

Another Thursday morning, another non-stress test.  Apparently I told my sister-in-law Marlys I’d be back by noon to feed the girls lunch.  But as I drove to the hospital, I felt more and more miserable—wondered if I’d have to pull over to lose my breakfast.  Decided to just go straight to the doctor’s office, rather than go through the rigmarole of the non-stress test before I found out what she thought of my headache and nausea.

The doctor herself got me from the waiting room, and had me lay down on the examining table in the room.  She came back in a few to report that sure enough, I was showing a +1 of protein.  And when she took my blood pressure (while I was laying down, mind you), it was 140 over 100.  My reflexes did all the clicks and things that they aren’t supposed to do.  And between that and the headache and nausea, she decided it was time to induce.  She checked me and I was still not even 2 c.m. dilated, and only 50% effaced.

10:15 a.m. I called Merritt, who was hauling manure, and told him, “I guess we’re having a baby today.”
(I later found out that the conversation with the farmer he was with went something like this:
Merritt: Well, that changes my plans for the day.
Farmer: Was that your dad?
Merritt: No, it was my wife—I guess we’re having a baby today.
Farmer: Oh!  Do you need to go right now?!)

I called my mom and told her the same thing.  At least she’d gotten 12 hours of sleep the previous night, to make up for being up all night with my brother the night before that!

Then I drove to the hospital to get admitted…  They wanted to get all the readings on the monitors for another non-stress test to establish a baseline of readings before they started the induction.  I tried to rest and relax in the room that was dimly lit by the doctor’s orders.  Meanwhile, I composed a Facebook message via text (I didn’t find out until the next day that it didn’t post because I’d made it too long—even so, I knew my friends were praying for me).

12:05 p.m. Facebook that didn’t post:
In hospital, about to be induced because of toxemia/PIH symptoms flaring up.  Not very dilated so it may be a long day. Thanks so much for your prayers for this little one & all of us…

12:10 p.m. Tweet:
our little one is on the way! having to be induced. prayers much appreciated. thank you!

12:30 p.m. Pitocin started.  The nurses estimated a 1 a.m. delivery, which we told my mom, since she had a long drive between home and the hospital!  My mother-in-law didn’t believe that estimate for a second, considering how fast my other labors had progressed.

By the time Merritt got to the hospital (having cleaned up the messy house I’d left and otherwise prepared things for coming home with a baby!), my blood pressure and reflexes had normalized (the doctor told me later that I seem to have very active reflexes all the time!) and no more protein, either.  The nurse concluded I didn’t know how to relax at home.  The bed rest in a quiet room might have had something to do with it, but I knew a lot of people were praying for me and the baby.  I was so thankful, though, because the decreased symptoms meant I could lay on my back and not be stuck on my left side.  (With Ruth, I labored laying down or on my side the entire time, because each time I’d sit up too much, her heart rate would drop—not fun, and something I didn’t want to have to do again!)

3:30 p.m. Three hours of slowly increasing contractions later, I was 80%, but still only 1.5 c.m.  Regardless, since my contractions were getting fairly strong and regular, they stopped the Pitocin, saying at this rate things would move on their own just fine.

At some point in here, I asked Merritt to pray for us, the labor, and the baby in the time between contractions.  The contraction didn’t wait for him to finish praying, so I don’t remember all he said, but I do remember him praying, “Thank You for Your timing.”  We knew that even though it wasn’t in our plan to have a baby this day or in this way, it was God’s—and He knew best.

4:15 p.m. The bag of waters started trickling—progress!  I think it was at this point that the nurse changed her tune, saying maybe the baby would make it by 6 p.m.  We did not tell my mom that, nor did we tell her that my water had broken!

5:00 p.m. 4 c.m.

7:00 p.m. The nurse was having a hard time telling how dilated I was, so she called in the doctor, who declared me 7 c.m.  She also discovered that the bag of waters was still mostly intact, so she broke it.

This was shift change time, and the new nurse who came on was young and sweet and naturally-minded.  I was quite grateful for her presence in the next 12 hours!  The contractions came strong and steady, but thankfully I had a break to rest between each.  I was having a lot of pelvic pressure, so the nurse asked if I wanted to try changing positions.  I was open to suggestions, and managed to get on my hands and knees, which definitely helped relieve the pressure for a bit.

Normally my doctor doesn’t hang out in the room, but just waits in the hallway and comes in right when I’m ready for delivery.  I don’t know if it was because there was only one labor nurse on duty, or if she was just remembering how fast my other deliveries had been and knew the baby could come anytime, but I think she was basically in my room from 7 p.m. on.  This was encouraging to me because I knew that if the doctor was there, the baby was coming soon!

Eventually the doctor checked again, and said the head was right there but there was still a lip of cervix holding it in.  I got to try pushing a few times to help it along, but neither I nor the baby was quite ready yet.  Maybe 10 or 15 minutes of more contractions, and I was feeling so much pressure I was given leave to start pushing.

Just 2 minutes of pushing, and you were born at 8 p.m. sharp. 

“It’s a little boy!” said the doctor.  I think your daddy was the most surprised.  I’d wondered if I’d seen something suspicious on the ultrasound, but I hadn’t a clue what part of you we were looking at right then, so I had no way of knowing for sure.  And the heart rate kept indicating another girl.  But a son!  We were thrilled.

You were quite blue when you came out, but you quickly found your lungs.  They snuggled you up on my chest and I was in awe of the little face I was looking at, such a perfect miniature of your daddy.

I was thrilled to hear that I hadn’t torn—the past two times the doctor had decided to do an episiotomy to help me out (I pushed for 10 minutes with each of the girls, and each of them came out with their hand up by their head—so helpful!), but this time I hadn’t needed it, yay!

The doctor was soon done and on her way.  We knew my mom wouldn’t be there for about another hour.  But we called your aunt Marlys right away, to see if your sisters were still up.  They had just gone to bed, so we told her to call if they got up.  We forgot to tell her not to say anything on Facebook!  Because your grandpa had told us he didn’t want to know until Grandma knew, and we didn’t want to call her and distract her while she was driving.  So we called your Papa and Nanna—apparently your daddy said, “It’s another…grandson!” and had them believing you were a girl there for a bit.  Your daddy called your Great Grandma Billie to wish her happy birthday and inform her that you now shared her birthday.  She was thrilled!

Then your amazing daddy went to Subway to get me some dinner.  He ended up with McDonald’s food for himself, yet again (after Mary’s birth, these late-night runs to grab some food after the baby arrives are becoming tradition, except she was born so late that Subway was closed and I got a Safeway sandwich instead).  He held my sandwich to my mouth while I tried to hold your food to your mouth!


Meanwhile, I’d spent the first hour of your life trying in vain to interest you in nursing. Both your sisters had latched right on—you weren’t even thinking about it. In fact, you’d taken to screaming, especially when they checked your vitals, and you didn’t want anything to do with anything. (The hospital receptionist that night declared that you were apparently not happy with this world, and wanted to go back where you came from!)

Around 9:15 p.m. we heard your grandma in the hallway.  She peeked in and I told her to come meet her grandson. 

Now that your grandma knew, I managed to call your grandpa (I heard your Aunt Jessica scream in the background at the news) and your Aunt Natalie (who had sorta kinda already seen the news on Facebook), but I had to let your daddy do the rest of the phone calls, because you were screaming so much.  And by that time, it had gotten so late, we didn’t make many more calls.  This is the thing that bothers Mommy most about your birth—I didn’t get the people called that I wanted to, since it was so late and you were screaming, and so most everyone just found out on Facebook.  They were all quite understanding, but I felt bad—I guess my expectations weren’t very realistic, or were based on different deliveries than yours!

The nurse was amazing at helping with different positions to get you to nurse.  But no matter what I tried, you would latch on, take a swallow, and stop.

We all finally realized we might as well bathe and weigh you since you weren’t interested in eating.  The nurse told Daddy to give you your bath, which was the first time he’d gotten to do that in the hospital, and was special—though difficult in the little pan they had!  And you weighed the most of any of my babies so far, at 7 pounds 2 ounces, but were the shortest at 19 and a quarter inches.

Of course, being your parents, we still hadn’t decided on a name for you yet.  A fact which everyone laughed about when they would ask—they’ve come to expect it with us now.  At least we don’t wait for days like happened with your uncle Mason—we just like to have a chance to talk about it in private, and there is little of that in the hospital room of a newborn!  Since before your mommy and daddy were married, I’d been emphatic that our first son needed to share his daddy’s name—much to your daddy’s chagrin!  Finding names that could use Merritt as a middle name was a bit challenging (we couldn’t do Chase Merritt, for example!).  We’d had a bit of a list with each of your sisters, but it was a good thing they weren’t boys because we were far from settled on a name.  And, in fact, we had no clue what we’d name you the night before you were born.  I figured we’d sorta settled on another name on the list, but I wanted to leave the naming of a son up to your daddy—the first name, at least!  So when it was all finally quiet and just the three of us together, I asked your daddy what he was thinking for a name.  He wanted to know what I was thinking but I said no, it was his decision—and he said he liked Daniel.  So Daniel Merritt you were, adding yet another Dan to our church, much to the delight of Pastor Dan, Danny, Daniel, and Dan!  (Not to mention Don, Denny who’s moved away, and Daniel’s dad Dan who went home to be with the Lord last year!)

April 15, 3:08 a.m. Tweet:
a son! holding him instead of sleeping. feeling your prayers. #1000gifts (more details coming soon)

April 15, 3:19 a.m. Facebook post:
IT’S A BOY!  Thanks so much for your prayers.  All are well, not all are sleeping. Winking smile More details coming.  Pray he catches on to eating soon? PS He looks like his daddy. Open-mouthed smile

April 15, 10:52 a.m. Tweet:
Daniel Merritt was born 8pm Thurs. 7lb 2oz, 19 1/4 in. Looks like his daddy. 😉 Pray he starts eating so we can go home? Thanks friends.


By Friday morning it was evident that you were in no hurry to learn how to eat, and thus we wouldn’t be going home any time soon.  Your grandma and Aunt Marlys brought your sisters to the hospital to meet you.  That was hilarious!  The first thing Mary did was go for your little knitted hat, then pull on your umbilical cord.  Ruth’s comments were too cute:  “Did it come out of your tummy?  Why is it here?”  (They hadn’t been told your gender until they arrived at the hospital, and it was quite confusing for a while, learning that a brother meant a “he”!)  Ruth was very proud of you, Mary was mostly concerned about Mommy and needed some snuggles and attention.


Friday was a blur, for me, of trying to nurse you in between visitors—Papa and Uncle Mason (who think you are awfully special, being the first of Papa’s grandsons to carry on the last name, I might add), Aunt Katie, Pastor and his wife, Dan and Lorrie, Doc L. and his wife.  Your grandma downloaded some pictures onto the computer and found a wireless connection so I could read everyone’s Facebook comments and yes, even post a short blog post announcing your arrival!

IMG_0130But you wouldn’t nurse.  You were so tired.  And so was your mommy.  I wasn’t sure what to do or try next—your sisters had been such pros at the nursing thing—you were so exhausted that you just wouldn’t stay awake for more than a swallow or two.  And, because of the induction, my body wasn’t quite as aware of the fact that it needed to be making milk, either!

But God provided a brand new, high quality breast pump through an avenue I would never have expected or even asked for.  That helped encourage my milk supply.  And, after 24 hours, you finally woke up!  We remembered the comparison with your big sisters, Ruth being induced and being so laid back at first, and Mary having come of her own accord (early, too!) and being so wide awake and ready to go.  It was obvious you’d been content and not in a hurry to come out—or to wake up and eat.

But, you ate all night long.  Mommy’s adrenaline had finally slowed and I was ready to sleep, but you weren’t.  So I got a few snatches of sleep but mostly fed you.  Which I didn’t mind.  I was just so very thankful you were eating.  And that your daddy was home getting a good night’s sleep with your sisters.  It was the first night we’d ever spent apart (other than him being in the field baling hay), but I knew he needed sleep and your sisters needed him—not to mention the fact that I was hoping you’d eat all night and he wouldn’t be much help with that—so I told him it was okay to go home.

IMG_0163April 16, 10:49 a.m. Tweet:
Bringing our little son home. The same one who ate all nite long. Thank you so much for praying.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.  You didn’t wet enough diapers and we had to pump milk and force feed it to you with a bowl and a spoon for a while until you finally developed an appetite and stayed awake long enough to eat enough.  Since then, you’ve hardly stopped eating!  But then you had a hernia and had to have surgery…!

But I’ve written more of those details elsewhere and this birth story is long enough for any guy’s birth, right?

We love you, Daniel Merritt. We are so thankful for the 3 precious months God has given us with you so far!

Lots of Love,
your mommy

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  1. How lovely to read this. I did not read it when you first posted it due to lack of time right then, but I loved reading it during my lunch break today. You could be a medical writer!!
    Lots of interesting details. I really like you blog generally – reading about all your doings and little ones. I have started a new job for Aberdeen University and absolutely loving it. Hope you are all keeping well.

  2. I’m seriously impressed you were able to go all natural with an induction, and that you stuck with nursing even after all the challenges!! You are awesome! Congrats again on your little man. We just had our fourth baby and named him Max Daniel, so Daniel must be a popular name! 馃檪

  3. He’s just so cute!!! And it always amazes me that even tiny babies “match” their names. Your little boy really “looks like a Daniel” already! 馃檪

  4. I love birth stories and this one was no exception! 馃檪
    I love the name you chose; it’s perfect for him!

  5. That frog looks so big compared to him! It is so hard to remember how tiny they are when they are just a few days old. I enjoyed reading your story since all I get are grandma-great grandma perspecives. 馃檪

  6. I so loved reading that and hearing all the details I didn’t know yet… 馃檪 Thank you so much for typing it up. It’s so crazy to think that our little ones are already getting so big…