As I sit down to write this with my precious Emily asleep on my lap, I am amazed at all that God has done by blessing us with her. I truly can not explain the joy that she has brought to my heart. I find myself looking at her in quiet moments and being overwhelmed with gratefulness for her and for God's infinite goodness. I guess this blog post is the 3rd in a series. I wrote about Stella's birth story here, and I wrote about the birth and loss of our daughter Sophia here. We knew that this pregnancy would be different. My two pregnancies before had been very low risk, with no complications...but now things would be different. This pregnancy would involve a team of doctors, nurses, and midwives. Though my primary care was with a group of midwives, I also saw a maternal fetal medicine team where I had regular ultrasounds and monitoring. At the end of my pregnancy I was making the 1.5 hour drive to one of the best hospitals on the East Coast for appointments. The last few weeks of my pregnancy were a battle with myself to trust the Lord, and the last week included a trip to L&D after not feeling much movement. They assured us that Emily was going great, but the waiting was hard. When I was 37 weeks, 5 days, I went in for a routine non stress test and midwife appointment. But, when I got hooked up to the monitor, Emily's heart rate was extremely high. In a whirlwind, the nurses rushed me out of the office and upstairs to labor and Delivery. We quickly had to call family to come get Stella as the nurses told us that they believed that they would deliver me. When we got to triage it took a little while, but eventually Emily's heart rate came back to a normal range. Some of the doctors began talking about sending us home, but we really felt strongly that it was time to have our little girl. We were still a little more than a week away from our scheduled induction, but thankfully our midwives really fought for us that it was time to have our little girl considering the complications that we had faced that week and the loss of Sophia just a year before. I assumed through my pregnancy that I would have to be induced, though I really wanted a natural, unmedicated delivery. So, even though I knew it was time for Emily to be born, and I would do whatever it took for that to happen...I was worried that the interventions for induction may mean that I wasn't able to have the birth that I wanted. I was able to speak with my midwives, Katie and Birget, and decide on the best plan for induction. At my appointment two days earlier I had only been a fingertip dilated, so I was surprised that when they checked me I was between 2-3 cm dilated. We decided to use a foley catheter to see if it would help me dilate further. I had not heard of this method of induction before, but I am so glad that the midwives introduced it to me. It was placed at about noon on Friday, and in less than two hours it came out and I was 5 cm dilated. At this point though I was having some contractions that were showing up on the monitor, I wasn't feeling any pain, so we assumed that the contractions would probably need some help to keep me progressing, and they started pitocin. For the next several hours for the most part pain free, I was having some contractions, but definitely not in active labor. We walked the halls of the hospital, watched Netflix, Facetimed with Stella, and just hung out in our room having fun with the nurses. Around 10pm they came in to check me to see if I was making any progress. To everyones surprise, I was 7cm dilated, even though I was feeling great with just some slight discomfort from contractions. They decided to break my water to help things move along. I knew from my delivery with Stella that things would get pretty intense once my water was broken...and it did. I really wanted to labor in the tub, and I thought it would be a great way to work through the contractions without medication. I decided to get in the jacuzzi tub in our room shortly after they broke my water and contractions began to intensify. I labored in the tub through contractions I was sure I couldn't handle. As I worked through contractions with Jeremy and my nurse by the side of the tub, I visualized Emily through the contractions. As my nurse reminded me to relax and not tense through the contractions, Jeremy reminded me to breath and to picture holding her soon. Jeremy held my hand and prayed, and was calm and gentle as a quietly moaned through contractions. Soon it was time. I had the irresistible urge to push and the nurse was calling in everyone that needed to be there during delivery. I got out of the tub and went to the bed. After a few pushes, she was born. She was immediately put on my chest, and she was completely perfect. Jeremy and I were both crying because we were so happy to finally have her here. I held her for well over an hour, nursed her, and stared at her before she got her first bath or was weighed. She was 7lb 90z, and the most perfect addition to our family. Though she was born late at night at night, and I was exhausted...I couldn't help but hold her all night and be amazed at how much I loved her. I am so thankful that I was able to have the birth that I had envisioned. It truly was the most perfect birthing experience I could have imagined. As I sit here and reflect a month later, I am amazed at God's love and grace to me through my entire pregnancy and delivery. His strength truly is made perfect in our weakness. Through every fearful night of pregnancy, and every contraction I thought I couldn't make it through...He gave me His strength, and reminded me of His Steadfast love and faithfulness.