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Jane's story

posted Apr 24, 2017, 5:26 PM by Christine Merrill
This year, we did the most funny, brave, adventurous, mischievous this we've ever done in our lives: we didn't tell anyone in our family we were expecting our 6th child until after she was born! Here's the letter we wrote everyone after we confessed our secret. Enjoy!

Easter picture

Hi, everyone,

As you have probably by now guessed, the extra baby in our Easter pictures is indeed ours! You all seem surprisingly curious about the details of her arrival, so here are some basic stats:

Name: Jane Merrill (named after Jane Foulke Hughes, an early Quaker ancestor who did many good works (and married to Ellis Hughes), and Jane Ballantyne, wife of John Taylor, on the other side of the family.)
Birthday: Sunday, April 23 2017, 6:13am. (One whole week after her due date!)
Weight: 9lb 10oz.

When we found out we were expecting back in August, we were overtaken by an overwhelming desire for mischief. We have always joked about how funny it would be to not tell anyone we were expecting, and we decided to do it this time! We contrived to get my mom out here to help by asking her to watch the kids while Marriner took me on a surprise trip with him to a conference in Los Angeles (too bad that wasn't real, it would have been fun!). We were a little nervous Marriner's dad would notice something we he came through for a day back in October or November, but fortunately, his refined upbringing prevented him from mentioning my weight gain :) Obviously, we had to tell Ashley and Nate, who were bound to figure it out eventually. Other than that, we just didn't say anything! 

So, April 11th, my mom showed up and learned that she had been brought out on false pretenses. She took it pretty well :) I think that being a little zonked out from an over-night flight helped her not have enough energy to over-react! I was pretty sure my due date of April 17th was later than the baby was actually going to come, and later that evening, I started having contractions. Then my water broke, and I was glad that Nana had made it in time! We called John and Cathy (and Joseph, who was standing nearby heard the news too) so we could tell them we were pregnant while I still was. Only, the contractions fizzled out, and the next morning when I met with my midwife, I learned that you actually have 2 layers on your amniotic sac, and you can break one but leave the other intact. Grrr...Poor John, Cathy and Joseph were sitting on a secret for a long time! And poor Rosie was left out. But she's really nice, and she'll forgive us. Right...???

To keep the "short" version of this story short, the baby played games with us for the next 2 weeks, I was pretty sure I was going to have a baby imminently every day. Psychological torture! But finally, Sunday morning, I went into real labor, had the baby 4 hours later (it would have gone faster, but the baby had a hard time getting into the right position to come down the birth canal. This was probably due to the cord being around her neck. Hooray for a wonderful medical team that really handled the complication perfectly, Jane and I both survived the somewhat adventurous labor and delivery unscathed!) She was quite purpley-blue when she came out, but it was actually mostly due to a bruised face. She looked so dark, you could have questioned her ethnicity! Today, the bruising has gone down, and she looks much more like our child. 

When she came out, everyone's first reaction was, "Woah, that kid is HUGE!" It was almost disappointing when she checked in under 10lb. But she pooped approximately 5 times in her first half hour, before she was weighed, so maybe she was 10lb when she was born...just kidding, maybe she was like 9lb 12oz. They didn't weigh her very quickly just because they were making sure she was ok and breathing well before moving on to other stuff.

Since we had the baby at a birth center, we were free to come home that morning, and we enjoyed a quiet day sleeping and recovering. When Nana got home from church with the younger kids, Sam came in very quietly and met his sister, singing her songs and smiling. Martha had fallen asleep in the car, and woke up later. As she was running to the bathroom, she saw Mom with the baby. She stopped dead in her tracks and exclaimed, "Mom! Baby! Come out! Tummy!" She just grinned and said that over and over until we told her to come in and see the baby. She was pretty happy. 

And that is the 100% TRUE life story of Jane Merrill, real 6th child of Marriner and Christine Merrill. Really, no more tricks from us, we promise! We're glad we have such a fun family that had fun with our surprise (though I promise, not NEARLY as much fun as we've had!)

Love, Christine and Marriner

ps- Aren't you all impressed with us for finding a matching Easter dress for Jane? And she was so big, she fit it perfectly even though it was 3-6mo size. What a nice baby.

AND, for those of you who want the whole birth story, here are some more of the gory details. Don't say I didn't warn you!!

The last part of this pregnancy was pretty miserable. Jane was up in my lungs and stomach, so I could hardly eat or breathe. My whole life was spent wishing she would drop! When I had my fake-out labor on April 11th, she dropped a little (that was actually my 2nd false alarm, but it was more convincing than the first one.) Then she grew back up into my lungs. I just seemed to spend every day saying, "Come on, kiddo, why don't you come out? You're just getting bigger and bigger!" And I was having so many contractions, I was certain that when she did come, it was going to go really fast, which worried me a bit.

I woke up at 2:30 on the 23rd and had 3 big contractions in 30 minutes, so I woke up Marriner and called the midwife and birth assistant (nurse). I encouraged quick arrival at the birth center :) We got there, and I thought things were getting pretty serious, but contractions were still like 10 minutes apart. After an hour, the midwife felt my tummy and the baby hadn't really engaged yet. She was turned funny. So they had me do some stretches to open up room in my pelvis, and some exercises that for some reason encourage babies to turn around. Jane was kicking and wiggling like I've never felt during labor (usually my babies seem to be very still and passive while my body does the work.) You could tell she was trying to get into position! After a while, I was pretty exhausted and laid back down, and the midwife expected things to happen pretty quickly. The contractions were still only 10 minutes apart, but they were so intense, I could hardly bear it. Finally, I lost my ability to relax completely and tried to change position in the middle of a contraction. Suddenly, I felt myself pushing (really hard!) and the baby moved (a lot). And, she was crowning! I would have been really excited, except that I was sort of stuck on my hands and knees and couldn't get into a more comfortable position because of how much I hurt. Basically, my wonderful husband and medical team took over from there, as things started to get a little crazy. If this had been Martha, I would have given 2 more good pushes and she would have been out. But Jane got her head out on the next push, then got stuck. Her cord was around her neck and seemed to be keeping her from moving down any more. The cord wasn't compressed, so Jane was ok, she was just stuck half in/half out. Hardly desirable for either of us! The midwife tried to loop the cord over her head, but it wasn't long enough and they eventually (all this took like 1 minute) decided they would have to cut the cord then push really hard to get her out immediately. So, Jane was cut off and held her breath, so to speak, for the next minute or so until I got her pushed out. After it was all over, I realized that I should have been a little scared, but the midwife was so calm that I didn't realize how serious it was! So, Jane had a rough entry into the world. Besides being stuck and holding her breath, she had descended so quickly that she'd bruised her face. In short, she looked pretty bad when I first saw her. The midwife and birth assistant spent probably 15 minutes just helping her get her breathing established - suctioning her out, massaging her back, etc. Her body pinked up nicely, though her face was still blue due to the bruising. But she was sort of wheezing, which concerned them. After listening to her breathing, testing her blood oxygen, etc, they were sure that she was breathing ok, and determined that she wasn't wheezing, she was just talking. We laughed, she proved that she really is a Merrill. Trying to talk, even when you'd think she'd have other priorities :) After that, we all relaxed a bit, knowing she was doing fine. So, that was the end of the drama, and since then, things have been pretty normal! Yahoo!

It was certainly not my favorite labor and delivery, but we really felt like things went so well given the complication that was there. We were so blessed! Looking back at all the difficult things of the last few weeks - the baby being so high, the false alarms, the bizarre labor - it all makes sense knowing that she was stuck in her umbilical cord. Jane means, "God is gracious" and that's how we feel right now! We're grateful things worked out well, and that it's all over!