Last Saturday was one of those days where life just seemed to feel settled and all was well in our little part of the world. We started the day with our community group in Harlem, we finished up a few projects around the apartment to prepare for baby, and we got to enjoy a fun playdate in Central park with the Pierson family. (It was the first time Fairley had seen a playground in months!) That night, Freeman and I went to eat at Kitchenette, a highly recommended restaurant in our neighborhood, and every bite was delicious. I ate the spicy catfish, which I think, coupled with my long walk to the park that day, might have sent me into labor. We came home that night, and I went to bed while Freeman stayed up to welcome my parents who arrived at 1:30 AM that morning.
At 2:30, I got up to go to the bathroom and had a suspicion that labor was about to begin. By 3 AM my contractions were getting stronger and coming about 8-10 minutes apart. I breathed through them and tried to stay busy at the advice of my doula. (All I could really do was read or check emails on my phone, so that’s what I did. I also downloaded a contraction timer app and searched for some Bible verses for Freeman to quote to me during labor.) By 4 AM, my moaning woke Freeman, and although I thought we had more time and told him to try to get some rest, he decided to start timing contractions. They were already coming about 4-5 minutes apart. I tried to write an email to get things ready for a meeting at church that morning, but I could barely make it through a short email without contractions coming and interrupting my train of thought.
My mom came in and asked if she should check on Fairley, who she thought was crying. I said, “No, that’s me. I think I’m going to the hospital soon. Welcome to my apartment.” Then I came out and gathered a few things we needed for Apostles Moms Sunday Meeting, grabbed my shoes, and we were on our way. Freeman had called a cab, so he was waiting for us downstairs. He was a very kind cab driver, empathizing with my pain as we chatted between contractions. Just a little after 5 AM, we entered the Emergency Room, and they showed me straight to Labor and Delivery. By the time the elevator dropped us off on the 12th floor, I could neither walk nor talk through my contractions. I made a grand entrance in to triage, to say the least. (I was just praying they would keep me this time and not send me home like they did twice when I was in labor with Fairley.)
Through this all, my sweet and patient husband was coaching my breathing, praying with me, and saying verses over me. When the doctor checked me, I was dilated 4 cm, and they let me stay! I was beyond excited about this, dreading walking around outside in the wee hours of the morning until my contractions picked up enough to warrant a hospital admittance. Soon enough, I had an IV in my arm and was on my way to a delivery room. That’s where my friend and doula, Jill, met us. My nerves were calmed when she walked in the door. She was able to explain things to me and continue helping me and Freeman with the breathing and counter pressure during contractions.
Shortly after, there was talk of my long-awaited epidural, and the only thing I feared was the command they give you to sit still during what I consider the most extreme pain I have ever felt. But with Freeman’s help to coach me through, I was able to stay still and get that happy juice. The pain began to subside, but I still felt a ton of pressure. When they checked me again, I was already at 9 cm and probably getting really close to being ready to push. However, it must have been approaching 7:30 AM, so they were about to do a shift change and asked that I wait until the new doctors and nurses were in place before I pushed. Ok? Why not? I’m sitting pretty here with this button that I get to control that releases my pain meds. I just kept checking with Jill that it was not detrimental to J.D.’s health to just hang out in the birth canal that long. She assured me that they were watching his heart rate and that all was well. She also let me know that it’s actually good to take a little break after you reach 10 cm to allow your body to prepare to push.
My new doctor, Dr. Simon, came in and introduced herself. (She’s not in the actual practice I use, but I guess she is affiliated with them.) We talked about positions for pushing, and we reverted to the usual way it’s done (at her request). We did a trial round of pushing, and she assured me it was time. One more round of pushing, and then everyone got quiet. I didn’t ask why, but I could tell they were all watching the monitors and guessed that his heart rate had dropped. I sat quietly and prayed for another contraction to come quickly so I could just push with all my strength to get him out. And God is good – that’s exactly what happened. As he came out, the doctor quickly removed the cord, which was around his neck, and she handed a beautiful (albeit a little blueish) baby boy to me. I was so, so happy to finally meet him. I have always loved him, but I felt like that love was made fully tangible as I held him in my arms.
My epidural was starting to wear off, so I tried to stay focused on just loving that sweet little guy through some pain of the aftermath of birth. After turning up the happy juice, we were able to sit in our room for a couple of hours and just thank God for this miracle he had given us. We prayed this verse over our new little guy:
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
This is our prayer for our new son – to walk humbly with God and let his love for God lead him to these actions of doing justice and loving and acting in kindness. We are so humbled that God has chosen us to shepherd this little man and lovingly lead his little heart.
After our two hours in the delivery room, we were brought in to our postpartum room across the hall, where we were given a “room with a view” (i.e. the side of the semi-private room with the window.) This, my friends, was such a huge blessing, as last time we were cramped into the other side of the room and didn’t see the sun for a few days. Having a great view of the city I love and soul-warming sun, which I have greatly missed this winter, was such a perfect way to introduce our new little guy to this world. Another huge blessing God provided was that we were alone in our “semi-private room” without a roommate for almost the entire duration of our stay. This made the whole stay seem a little more peaceful with half as many medical staff coming in and out throughout the whole day and night.
After we got settled, family and friends began to arrive to meet J.D. Gramma and Papa Tay and GiGi, Big Dad, and Fairley all came. When Fairley arrived, she took off her shoes and climbed into bed with me. I knew after not seeing me for a day or so, and then seeing me in this state would be a little weird for her, so I wanted to give her time to reacclimate to me. She was very concerned about my IV. Then we gave her her present from J.D. (a boy baby doll). She said, “I love my new pretend baby. And I love our real baby.” She wanted to hold him and kiss his head, which we, of course, let her do.
Later that day, Uncle Owen and Aunt Krista, Tonya, Brooke, Ron (and Aly) all came to visit and meet our new little man. We had so much fun introducing him to everyone that day and all of the visitors that we had in the days to come, too. We are so grateful for such a loving community of friends (near and far) that have congratulated us, welcomed J.D., and served our family so well during this time.
We did have a little moment that caused us a little scare, but we are so grateful for God’s grace in all of it. The first afternoon after J.D. was born, we laid him down in his little bassinet, and my mom helped me to the restroom. We heard a little cough, and my mom was about to go check on him when the nurse’s aid came to my room with a new pitcher of water. We are thanking God and his great timing in this because the aid noticed that J.D. had turned blue! She grabbed him and quickly began patting his back. She had my mom call for a nurse, who came promptly and began suctioning fluid from both J.D.’s nose and mouth. I was rendered useless in the restroom and had no idea what was going on. I only knew he was coughing (and not that he had turned blue). I’m thanking God for even this because I doubt I could have handled the sight of that! I am so grateful for the nurse’s calming nature. She then explained that he probably swallowed a lot of the birthing fluids and would be spitting them up for the next day or so. We chose to send him to the nursery that night so that they could help monitor him, and after lots of burping and syringing, he was better in the morning!
After two days and nights in the hospital, we were released to go home! Fairley, GiGi, and Big Dad welcomed us when our car arrived. We have spent the last week loving on both Fairley and J.D., losing lots of sleep (but it’s worth it), and just learning how to be a family of four. We are so grateful for the way God has created our family, and we are praying for his wisdom to help us continue in our parenting journey.
John Durden Field
Born at 8:51 AM on Sunday, March 9th
Weighing 7 lbs, 10 oz, and measuring 20 inches in length