A (Really Long) Birth Story

About a month before my due date, Philip got a job promotion; the new position was in Huntington Beach, California. During the few weeks prior to the promotion news, as Philip was interviewing, we started thinking seriously about plans for this baby. If he started in October, before the baby was due, when would I move (since I obviously couldn’t move at 9 months pregnant)? What if he was working in California when I went into labor? Who did I trust enough to be with me while I delivered the baby if my husband couldn’t be there? Once the baby was born, how soon would we all make the move? So many unanswered questions.

Once Philip got the job, however, we could finally start solidifying some of these plans. With a start date of November 5th, we decided to schedule an induction for October 26th, which insured that he would be here for the birth, and have a full week of paternity leave after the baby arrived, before he had to move.

In my last month of pregnancy, I began getting checked at my weekly appointments, and remained consistently dilated to one centimeter, never progressing more than that, despite the contractions that I was having several times a day.  During the week leading up to my induction date, we started taking long walks to help move things along, and the day before I even ran up and down the outside stairs for a few minutes with the hope that it would break my water. No such luck.

On the morning of the 26th, we woke up around 7:30am and lounged around in bed for a bit, basking in our last few hours as parents of one. At 8:30, the hospital called and said that although they were slammed, I should come in at 10:00am. I jumped in the shower, and then spent the next hour getting myself ready, and packing a few last minute things in my hospital bag. As we dropped Peanut off at Leanne’s and headed for the hospital, l grabbed Philip’s hand, gave him a little smile, and said, “this is it!” And off we went.

Because of how busy the hospital was, and because I was there for an induction, we had to wait for about half an hour before getting checked in. So it was about 10:30 by the time we got into the delivery room, and almost 11:30 by the time they started the pitocin, since we first had to go through all the family history questions, and then have a full 30 minutes of monitoring on the baby before the pitocin could be administered.

Once I was all hooked up, the day turned into a waiting game.

After an hour on the pitocin, I had the nurse check my progress to see if I’d dilated at all. I’d still been at a one when I arrived, and after an hour of pitocin I was still only at a one (one and a half, she said, if she was being generous). Everyone had told me that second babies came way faster than first babies, so I was convinced that if the doctor came and broke my water, things would start progressing really quickly. I kept bugging the nurse about this every time she came in, asking when the doctor would be in, and although she had no idea, she assured me she would try to find out. 

Finally at 3:00pm, the doctor came in and broke my water, announcing that I was now a whopping two centimeters dilated. He told me he thought things would speed up with my water broken, so I asked for my epidural at this point since my contractions were getting very strong, very frequent, and pretty painful already. At 3:30, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me the epidural. When I got my epidural with Peanut, I was dilated to a seven or an eight, and forced to be on oxygen because of the pain, so the whole thing was pretty much a blur. This time I felt much more coherent, and spent the entire procedure laughing and joking with the nice doctor. He commented several times on how happy and smiley I was, considering I was having such huge contractions. 

Now that my water was broken and I had my epidural, the waiting game continued. The nurse came in to check on me every forty five minutes, and in between checks we watched youtube videos (auto-tune the news, mostly — we laughed a lot at this one), and then turned on the TV to watch Minute to Win It and Wipeout (which also had us laughing hysterically, as usual).

At six o’clock our nurse’s shift ended, and a new nurse was assigned to us. I was sad to see our first nurse go, but quickly warmed up to the second nurse. Before our first nurse left, she went through the events of the day, filling our new nurse in on everything. As she told how slowly I was progressing, the new nurse said she felt like the time was coming soon. I’d just been checked again and was now barely dilated to a four, but she said she was confident that our little boy would soon make his move and I’d start progressing quickly. I was dubious.

Once the shift change was taken care of, I told Philip to go get dinner in the hospital cafe. I was obviously making very little progress, so he should go get something to eat since we were looking at a long night ahead of us. We called Leanne to tell Peanut good night (since he was now going to be spending the night with them), and then Philip left to go get dinner. Right before this, the nurse came in and told me my doctor was at dinner with his family, but he’d be back in a bit and it should be a concern anyway because I wasn’t progressing quickly at all.

I suddenly found myself alone in the delivery room (now at about 6:45pm), and surrounded by total silence, I realized that I was starting to feel my contractions a little bit, although mostly what I felt was a lot of pressure. I reached for the little epidural button to give myself another dose, but couldn’t find it, and with mostly numb legs, couldn’t move around to look for it. I pushed the nurse button and a delivery nurse came in to help me find the epidural button. I told her I was feeling a lot of pressure, so she said she’d check me just to see if I was progressing. I’d been checked less than ten minutes before, and was still only four centimeters dilated, but I let her check anyway. I was just coming out of a big contraction, and as she checked she said, “During the contraction you were about a nine. Now you’re at an eight and a half.” Just like that, in less than ten minutes, I’d progressed five centimeters! 

Suddenly panicking, I frantically called Philip, telling him this baby was coming soon and to get back up there as soon as possible! He shoveled his food down (burning the roof of his mouth in the process), and rushed back up to the delivery room. They called the doctor, who cut his dinner short and rushed over to the hospital, and they called the anesthesiologist, who showed up about fifteen minutes later to give me a second small dose of medication since I was feeling pretty much all my very strong contractions at this point.

With everyone now in the delivery room, ready to go, I got checked one more time, was at a ten, and was now ready to push. When they broke my water hours before, they found a bit of meconium in my water, which concerned them a bit. So along with the two delivery nurses, the doctor, Philip, and a student nurse, there were two NICU nurses waiting to check out the baby as soon as he was born.

During my delivery with Peanut, everything was such a blur. Since I pushed for forty five minutes with him, I was so exhausted by the end that I only vaguely remember the actual delivery and the hour or so after delivery. This time I was so determined to stay coherent and aware, just so I could soak up every moment of the miracle of childbirth. Also, from recent conversations and feelings that Philip and I had had, I believed (and still believe) that the moment the baby takes its first breath is when the spirit and body meet, and I was also determined to be very coherent during this really sacred and special moment.

Despite my quick progress at the end, and a huge amount of pressure and urge to push that I continued to feel up until the baby was delivered, I still had to push for about fifteen minutes. The baby was stuck under my pelvic bone and was having a hard time getting past that point. It took all my strength to push through each contraction, and although the goal was to get two big pushes per contraction, the nurse kept urging me to get one more push in at the end of each contraction because he was so close. Finally after a rather large episiotomy, the baby emerged at 7:43pm with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice. The doctor unwrapped the cord from around his neck and the baby took his first breath, quickly followed by a loud wail. This moment, although short, was so spiritual and emotional and sacred as I almost physically felt the presence of his spirit in the room as it entered this tiny human being.

Although he was literally covered head to toe in meconium, he was deemed perfectly healthy by the NICU nurses, and received a 9 on his Apgar test. While they cleaned him up a bit and weighed and measured him (7 lbs, 2 oz, 19 in), I delivered the placenta. I remember asking Philip about this after Peanut’s delivery, not even remembering that part of the delivery. Again, this time, I was determined to pay attention, and once the placenta was delivered, I asked to see it. A little surprised, the doctor pulled it out of the large tub and showed me the different sides of it, and the opening where the baby had been. It reminded me of those aliens from Independence Day.

After a few minutes, they brought the baby over and placed him on my chest. Although we thought he looked like Peanut at first, once we got a closer look we determined that he actually looked quite a bit different — mostly much lighter skin and hair.

After a little skin to skin time, he nursed for the first time and latched like a champ (which was a big relief, considering how tough Peanut was to nurse).

Once I had held him for about twenty minutes, they took him back to warm him up and clean him up a bit more. I took this chance to ditch my hospital gown and change into — you guessed it — one of my favorite Target t-shirts, which made me feel about a thousand percent better.

Right from the beginning, he was a very good natured baby, and has continued to be so good natured during the last two and a half weeks. 

Although we were concerned about Peanut’s adjustment, he has proven to be such a good big brother and has transitioned pretty smoothly. He adores his baby brother and loves to lay by him, make him hold his finger, and point out his “bright eyes” when he’s awake. It’s the best.

We’re still all transitioning a bit, and two babies is obviously crazier than one, but being a family of four is proving to be better than we could have ever imagined.

Welcome to our family, sweet Buckaroo. We’re so glad to have you.



  1. Ash says:

    This is so precious! Congrats again to your beautiful family. I hope the move has gone/is going smoothly!

  2. Janice says:

    Congrats! He is beautiful! I don't mean this in a harsh way, but I have to say that I disagree with you on when the spirit enters the body. As a mother of three who has had a miscarriage and a dear friend who had a stillborn baby I know that those little bodies that never got a chance to breath on earth really were little ones from Heaven. I hope that I can raise the little one I lost in the eternities. I do agree with you about the spiritual nature of birth and I like to think that it is the angels who accompany our little ones here to celebrate their birth! Congrats again, I hope you can take my comment as my thoughts with love, not trying to bash or stir things up.

    • Janice, thanks for your sweet comment! There are lots of differing opinions on this issue, even in church doctrine (I clicked over to your blog and saw you were LDS :)). I completely respect all opinions about it, and am not even sure that my opinion is the correct one since there are no definitive church teachings on the subject. It's just what has made the most sense to me as I've thought about it and discussed it with my husband over the last few months. But I completely agree with you that those unborn babies are still directly from heaven and, if we do have the chance to raise those miscarriage babies in the eternities, I'm looking forward to raising my miscarriage baby as well!

  3. Enda says:

    very nice! happy for you!! Wish him lucks!

  4. Saskia says:

    That last picture is so beautiful.

  5. kaila sue says:

    Birth story posts have GOT to be my favorite to read! He is so beautiful! He looks so much like peanut while still looking so different! I am so happy for you guys! And I'm pretty sure Huntington beach is paradise so I'm doubly happy for you and your gorgeous little fam!

  6. preethi says:

    That lats picture just makes my heart melt into a giant puddle. So, so sweet. Congratulations again!

  7. He is so precious, and I must say you do NOT look like you just gave birth. You're gorgeous!

    I had the same goofy contractions when I delivered my daughter. Somehow I went from 2-8 in the space of 15 minutes before I was even hooked up to any monitors. Talk about a delivery room panic! Nurses were freaking out, running around yelling for a Dr. ANY Dr. lol. Guess she always was a drama queen ;D

  8. Erica says:

    look at all his hair! he is so beautiful, and i loved your birth story. they are probably my favorite thing to read, haha. congratulations again!

  9. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  10. This was beautiful, Merrick! Congratulations again!

  11. MaryBeth says:

    Aw, that's really sweet. It kind of makes me a little less terrified of the birthing process. Also, your baby is gorgeous! Actually, nevermind, your whole family is gorgeous! You guys look so happy.

  12. Aria says:

    you're a champ, merrick! congratulations on your newest addition, he's so adorable 🙂

  13. Ruth Dowling says:

    Just lovely merrick!! Thank you for sharing your sweet story with us, and I am so relieved everything turned out okay. Congrats on being a family of four and best of luck recovering quickly! Xxoo

  14. KaceFace says:

    I loved your birth story! I hope the move to Huntington when smoothly, my husband & I are considering moving there at some point so id love to hear what you think about the area( and the LDS wards).

  15. Kara says:

    Love, thanks for sharing. I had my son 7 months ago and I started crying the second he was born. I had an epideral so I wasn't crying from pain and I couldn't pinpoint why I was crying, but reading about the body and soul meeting and it being very spiritual, I got chills and now understand that feeling I had, amazing!

  16. Rachel says:

    Sweet story, and what a sweet family you have. Congrats again!

  17. Kelly Jo says:

    Such a great birth story! And that last picture is absolutely precious!

  18. Jenn says:

    Absolutely amazing story! I truly got a little teary-eyed. Giving birth is truly a miracle.

  19. Loved reading this story Merrick! So glad to hear all is well! xoxo

  20. Sarah says:

    Oh my gosh, I love birth stories! Birth is truly a miracle. That last picture has GOT to be your announcement, toooooo cute! I used to live in Hungtington Beach, write me if you want tips of where to go, etc. I now live about 20 minutes south of there!

  21. sarah s. says:

    Such a sweet story. So many moments you described make me wish I payed more attention to every tiny detail with my son. I guess I still have time for a 2nd though so hopefully I will remember next time 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  22. Ali says:

    Congratulations!! what a beautiful family! thank you for sharing your story 🙂

  23. I'm not really a jealous type, but yes, I am a wee bit jealous of how gorgeous you looked while pregnant and right after giving birth. I had c-sections both times and looked horrid. I'm also jealous of being able to hold your baby right after you gave birth. I was not able to with either child; in fact, I had to be knocked out for my second c-section so I remember nothing. That being said, I enjoyed reading your birth story and looking at the photos of such a beautiful child. Thankfully my baby making days are over or my uterus would be begging me to have another child. 🙂

  24. Mary says:

    Congratulations! He is gorgeous. Good luck with the move and the adjustment to your new home.

    Having had a stillborn baby boy, I just wanted to comment on your observations about the spirit and body. I believe so strongly that my stillborn baby had a spirit (I had a spiritual temple experience that I don't share). He never took a first breath, but he had a perfectly formed body, I felt him move inside of me, and he WAS a little person with a spirit (even though he never got the chance to experience the outside world). So I did just have to say that maybe you have had inspiration given to you about when your own child's spirit and body met, but I don't feel that it necessarily applies to all babies. Having lost several babies (I just recently lost 2 more, one pretty late), I don't necessarily feel that ALL of them had spirits yet, but I do know that my stillborn son did. I believe his spirit was in his body while he was still alive. I believe it as strongly as I believe anything. Also, with my most recent late loss, I also felt as though that was the case.

    Anyway, I'm not trying to be negative or anything, I just felt like I had to speak up for my son and give my side of that experience. But what an awesome moment for you to experience with your son!
    Good luck with everything!

    • Mary, I'm so sorry to hear about your two recent losses — I hope you guys are doing okay. I can't even imagine how hard that would be.

      I totally respect other opinions about this matter, and like I mentioned in my response to the commenter at the top, church leaders have had differing opinions about it, and have never come out with a definitive answer, so I don't know if my opinion is right — it's just what I've felt and have chosen to believe. I think that based on our feelings and experiences, our opinions are probably all correct in some way. I also think that you're right about it being different for different pregnancies and children, and that it's not the same for everyone. Isn't it wonderful that each of us are able to have our own unique and individual experiences with our children?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it — it's interesting to hear other people's experiences and thoughts! Hope you guys are doing well!

  25. Blessings and joy to you and your family.

  26. Claire says:

    Congratulations. That's a very beautiful family. 🙂 And thank you for the nice blog post. I'm young and nowhere near having a family yet but I think your delivery story is very interesting. Congratulations again!

  27. Awww, what a delight to read. Love baby stories! Hope everything continues to go well.

  28. Lindsay says:

    Beautiful story. I also have to disagree with your thoughts about the spirit entering the body with the first breath, but I appreciated your response to the commenter above. It's cool that that's the feeling you've had with this baby, and I definitely think you can receive inspiration about your own children. What an incredible experience!

  29. Leanne says:

    Such a beautiful post Merrick! I loved getting to spend the day with little Peanut and I loved getting to come see you in the hospital! You make having a baby look graceful 🙂 Love you!

  30. Kayla says:

    So loved reading this! I second everything Leanne said, I loved getting to see you and little babe so soon after he was born and really appreciated your testimony of the spiritual aspect of giving birth… It has stuck with me! And, as Leanne said it best, you totally make having a baby look impossibly graceful. Love you lots!

  31. Shawna says:

    My husband and I are planning on having our first child within the next two years and the "baby bug" is starting to bite me badly…reading your experience really made me tear up! No matter your beliefs, every child is a miracle and congratulations on welcoming your little Buckaroo!

  32. Becky says:

    Congratulations! I loved your birth story. You are right, that moment when that baby comes into this world is truly a sacred moment. Bringing a life into this world seems like a small peek into Heavenly Father's perspective. He is adorable.

  33. R says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Suffering from infertility I have yet to be able to experience childbirth, but I LOVE reading about it. Congratulations!

  34. Beautiful story. I'm a labor and delivery nurse here in Canada and I totally understand what you went through. Pushing for 15 mins and with your first for 45 mins is still pretty quick. Typically with your first it can take anywhere from 1-2.5 hrs. I pushed for 3 hrs and ended up with a c-section. Glad everything went well. We called my son Peanut when he was inside of me. Now he is Aiden. Congratulations,



  35. I love this. Thanks for sharing! Glad everything went well and Philip was able to be there!

  36. jennie says:

    congratulations! love hearing birth stories from different countries, I'm a midwife in scotland and obviously we have a slightly different system. Its funny how quickly things can change with a 2nd labour and how it can surprise everyone!

  37. oh gosh, this brought tears to my eyes. congratulations!!!

  38. J. says:

    Your story gave me goosebumps in the best possible way! Congrats!

  39. newpetite says:

    Congratulations again! I love listening to birth stories just coz they are so magical and so out of this world to be able to bring a new person into this world who is and will be a part of you forever! (Hope i made sense above!) He is so adorable and you are gorgeous!

  40. Thank you for sharing such a personal and intimate story with us. Congratulations and welcome to California! You're going to love it here!

  41. Kara says:

    What a wonderful story. Thank you SO much for sharing it! Your boys are amazingly beautiful. And your comment about the body and soul meeting for the first time gave me goose-bumps! Keep up the awesome work on the blog. Love your family stories. Keep em coming 🙂

  42. Kara says:

    What a wonderful story. Thank you SO much for sharing it! Your boys are amazingly beautiful. And your comment about the body and soul meeting for the first time gave me goose-bumps! Keep up the awesome work on the blog. Love your family stories. Keep em coming 🙂

  43. ~Kori~ says:

    I know it isn't what your post is about, but I'm from Huntington Beach (we moved on a whim to Spokane, WA two years ago) and miss it so much! I know it's not going to be to you what it was to me and most likely nothing like home, but I hope you enjoy your time there!
    Since your boys are so little, there may not be a ton to do, but the library at Central Park is a really fun place to spend the afternoon. There's a great children's section and lots of fountains inside, a snack cart (they have everything!), and of course the park outside with several ponds with ducks (there are a few 'restaurants' where you can grab a bite for yourself and the ducks), play areas and lots and lots of grass to run around on! The beach is just a few blocks away as well.
    Anyway, congratulations on your new little guy and hope your move goes/went smoothly. 🙂

  44. Kristin says:

    He is absolutely beautiful and you look great! Doesn't even look like you just had a baby =)

  45. AshBarnum says:

    What did you name the baby?

  46. emandtrev says:

    There is nothing like a new baby. Thank you for sharing your birth story. It brings tears to my eyes–those first precious moments with your new sweet babe really are something absolutely tender and amazing. Congratulations!

  47. runtspickins says:

    Congratulations! He's adorable!!

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