We have just been through the longest week of our lives over here at the Perry house. My heart is full, and my feelings are still so tender, but I want to get things written down before they disappear from my memory, like so many things tend to do at my age. Parts of this week, I’m sure will never disappear, and I’m grateful for that.
We have a new member of our family. Her name is Emerson Jewell Perry. She was born on Saturday, January 16, 2016 at 10:58am. She is perfect. In every sense of the word. And we love her.
About a week before she was born, we were all anticipating her arrival. Although, we didn’t know then that we were anticipating a “her” and not a “him”, in fact, all six kids were convinced we would be welcoming a new little brother to our brood. Mom remained unsure… couldn’t have guessed one way or the other. We have been waiting a long time to grow our family, and now we were in the home stretch… only 5 weeks left. And, since Jace made her debut 2 weeks early, we were all thinking and hoping we were within about 3 weeks of meeting our new little love. This little angel has been highly anticipated and prayed for. In fact, we have been praying for YEARS to have another baby. Years. When I was young, and had 4 kids by the time I was 25, and figured I was done, I used to dream of the freedom that would come when all my kids had flown the coop by the time I was in my early 40s. I didn’t understand then that my kids, this family, would become the greatest source of joy and contentment in my life. I didn’t understand then that there is nothing else in this world I would love more than being a wife and a mom. I have been correctly quoted as saying I was not going to be one of “those women” popping out kids in her 40s. Oh how much I didn’t know.
After years of hoping and praying and trusting and waiting, we found out last July that we were finally going to be blessed with number 7. It was a great day. We wasted no time telling, well, the whole world pretty much. It was a good pregnancy. My best pregnancy actually. No morning sickness, no sore back, sore ribs, headaches. I didn’t gain a lot of weight. And I was just happy. So excited to be doing this again, bringing life into the world, doing what my body, as a woman, was designed to do. It has been very fulfilling. And the anticipation in our home, from all 6 kids and mom and dad, has been so fun to watch. We had to buy all new baby stuff, which was fun, and set up a new nursery. We were prepared for either a girl or a boy, and equally excited for either. Names had been picked out, and all that was left was to wait and see which one we would be using.
So, at just over 35 weeks, Jason and the kids took a Saturday ski trip and I stayed home. I had been sick for a couple days with a cough and a bad headache. I enjoyed my day snuggled on the couch watching movies on the laptop and sleeping. In the afternoon I took the dog outside and slipped on the snow. It wasn’t a bad fall, a pretty gentle landing actually, but it took me a while to maneuver my huge body into a sitting and finally standing position. I was very grateful we have no backyard neighbors, I’m sure it was quite a show! After I got back inside I gave my little one a little shove and felt her kick me back in protest. Just making sure everything was okay. The next day I was still feeling pretty sick, so i stayed home from church while Jason took the kids. I noticed I was having a LOT of braxton hicks contractions… like every ten minutes or so. It was a little annoying, but not painful. I felt the baby moving once when I was up getting a glass of water, but beyond that, it was mostly just contractions all day. Monday morning I started getting a little more aware that I really wasn’t feel much movement, if any, and I started paying attention. Trying every trick in the book to get a little rise out of my belly bump. Orange juice, ice packs, hot bath, and on and on. I listened to the babies heartbeat with my stethoscope in the morning, so I felt confident nothing was seriously wrong, but I still just wanted a little tap letting me know I was annoying her with my antics. But I didn’t get any little taps.
By the time Jason got home from work, I had worked myself up a little bit, and we decided to run over to a nearby midwife to get a quick check on baby’s heart tones. Just so I would be able to sleep. I hadn’t slept in three nights for being sick and I knew staying up one more night worried about our little one was not a great idea. We ran over to Jenne in Eagle Mountain and she spent about 15 minutes with us, trying with all her might to find a heartbeat with her doppler. But she couldn’t find one.
We got back in our car, in a little bit of shock, but not really ready to believe it. I called my midwife and we decided to head down to her in Springville, hoping she would have better luck. I’d been in touch with her all day, but neither of us had been overly concerned. Especially because I had heard the heartbeat that morning. We sent out a text for prayers and got on the freeway.You know, I have a big family, and Jason has a big family, so group text is the way to get things done in a hurry. I know the prayers started rolling in on our behalf pretty quickly, because our drive down to Springville was not filled with tears and fear, but with peace and calmness. We discussed the “what if” and decided, without hesitation, that we wanted to have this baby at home, regardless. Richelle only spent about 3 minutes looking for a heartbeat, then put her hands on my big belly and started to cry. And the Lord lifted us up. We stayed for a few minutes and talked to Richelle about what our options were. She made a couple phone calls, and we gave her a hug and headed home. There were some tears on this drive. We knew we had to go home and break our kid’s hearts.
And so we did.
We gathered them together in our living room and we told them. They knew I hadn’t felt the baby move, and they knew we had gone to check on a heartbeat, so they were a little bit prepared, but really nothing can prepare you for your life to get turned upside down like this. There were a lot of tears and a lot of hugs. We knelt down and had a family prayer. Oh how grateful we are for the gospel of Jesus Christ. How dark and difficult and overwhelming this would be if we didn’t know that this life is not the end! My dad came over and he and Jason administered a blessing to me, and it brought peace, although no promise of a miraculous return of a heartbeat. There was still hope in my heart that in the morning I would feel my little one wake me up with a big kick, but reality was staring me in the face, and the Lord was helping us all to accept it. The next morning, Tuesday, we started trying to make a plan. It was so important to me that my kids have a chance to see this baby, to hold her and love on her and kiss her, to touch her fingers and her toes and to spend a little time with her. From what I was being told, after about two days this becomes less and less a possibility. I didn’t want it to be traumatic for them to see her, so I was in a hurry. The midwife started to try to get everything lined up, legally, for me to be able to still have her at home, and kept running into obstacles. In order for the mortuary to take her away, there needed to be a death certificate, signed by an MD. But no MD would do it for us, unless we had her in a hospital. Richelle called several and was told they simply would not touch it, the liability was too great. What if something happened to me? Talking to Richelle on the phone that morning, I could tell she was starting to get nervous about delivering at home. Which made me nervous about ending up in the hospital after all. We decided to go to the temple. So, we dropped the littles off at David and Shalyn’s house to play with their cousins, and Jason dropped me off at my parent’s house and took the big kids to the temple to do some baptisms. And Richelle went to the temple to do a session as well. When Richelle called me after she got out of the temple, I gave her the good news that we had found an MD who would sign the death certificate. My dad knew an OBGYN in his stake, who was willing to let us birth at home and still sign the certificate for us. She told me that was great news. Then she told me that she had gone into the temple feeling very worried, nervous, concerned about this whole thing, the risks, the liability, etc etc. And she came out feeling peace. She said she was reminded that God is in control, and she felt like she was told to trust Him, and to trust us. To do what we wanted, because we were checking everything with the Lord. And so she was on board. And I felt peace and gratitude.
Richelle came over a little while later so we could get the show on the road. At this point I was focused on one thing, getting my baby here as quickly as possible, so that my kids could hold her and see her. I was determined to do what needed done, and grieve later. I was ready. I was scared, but I was ready. Unfortunately, my body was not.
We started doing what we could with herbal tinctures and primrose oil. We made enough progress that she was able to strip my membranes before she left for the evening, but not much happened after that. Finally that night I decided sleep was probably as important as anything (having not really slept for 4 nights now) and stopped the herbs and went to bed.
All day long I continued to take the herbs, homeopathics, etc. Every 15 minutes I was taking something. And I was having contractions, just not really painful or really long, so basically, not really doing anything. My body just didn’t think it was time to have a baby yet. I knew if we waited for my body to do it on it’s own, it would be 2-3 weeks, and it would be too late for my kids to get to see her. So I was determined, consistent, valiant, and didn’t miss any dose. Every 15 minutes. Richelle came over and checked on me and there was no forward progress. I finally gave in and tried the castor oil. Not a single contraction in response. Although lots of other unpleasantness I’ll spare you all the details of. In my mind I started getting a little panicked. What if this didn’t work? What if I had to go to the hospital? What if it took too long and the kids didn’t get to have the closure I felt would be so important? And then I would chastise myself… what if I simply trusted in God? What if I put it in His hands? What if I decided that He knew what my kids needed more than I did? What if I believed that even if it took longer, He could make it okay?
Richelle told me to keep doing what I was doing, and call her when it was time. Her definition of time: regular contractions lasting a minute and a half each.
There were other things we had to take care of too. My dad had already lined up Olpin mortuary, thank heavens for parents. What would I have done without all their help? But we needed to figure out where we were going to bury our little love. We had options. Wellsville, where my brother Mark is buried and where my parents will be buried and where they had a plot we could use. Albion, where Jason’s brother Scott is buried. Yost, close to mom and dad Perry. All of these cemeteries where a plot wouldn’t cost anything. And we simply could not decide. It was hard, it was something I never thought I’d have to think about. And yet, here we were. Finally we asked for the Lord’s help, and started calling around to local cemeteries, and committed to making a decision. And then the decision came easy. We would bury in Lehi baby cemetery. Close to us. Where we could visit. And we felt peace. We also started trying to decide on a name. We had names picked out for a boy and a girl, but decided not to use those for this little angel. After making a lot of progress on hard decisions, and no progress on labor, we went to bed.
I woke up discouraged, frustrated, feeling like this wasn’t going to work. But got to work. We went to Spanish Fork and saw an acupuncturist. We went back to the midwife in Eagle Mountain to have more primrose oil applied. We went out to Thai food for lunch. And then that night we went back to the acupuncturist. And then I got food poisoning. I mean, I can’t be sure, but that is what it felt like. Three straight hours sitting on the toilet, holding a bowl. I lost 3 pounds. It was horrifically miserable. And I just wanted to cry. But then, at about 11:00 that night, when the throwing up ceased, labor began.
My first contraction that really really hurt. It had taken longer than I had hoped, but maybe there was a chance it would still be okay. She would still look okay. I was awake all night, contractions every 5 minutes, lasting about 45-50 seconds. Not long enough to call Richelle. But labor none the less. It was finally happening.
I got out of bed around 5:30 in the morning. It was payday for our employees and I had been so distracted I hadn’t run payroll yet. I came out to the office and started working on the payroll, so Jason could run checks into the guys before work. I was texting with Dalan and told him I thought I’d be having the baby today. And then. Contractions slowed down. Oh, they started to hurt a lot more, but they weren’t coming nearly as often. And I gave up. Or maybe more appropriately, I gave in. I gave up on the idea that I had any control over the situation. I gave up on the idea that I could control how long this would take, or whether or not my kids would be able to see and hold this precious little babe. I gave up on the idea that there was anything I could control at this point. And I gave in. I cut back on the herbals and the tinctures and the homeopathics. I decided to let go. Let it run it’s course. Let the Lord be in charge. Trust in His timing, which I have been shown in my life is always perfect, but how easy it is to forget that in the moment. I labored all day. Contractions every 15 minutes. Lasting about 1:15. And painful. I knew my body was doing some work, and I tried to just let go and let it do it without forcing it. It was a very very very long day.
Before we went to sleep (who am I kidding… we all know I didn’t sleep…) I told Jason that he needed to do something fun with the kids on Saturday. Get them out of the house. It had been a long week of waiting for all of us and I felt bad for them. I told him to take them skiing. He said we would see how things looked in the morning and decide then. I labored all night. Contractions came every 10 minutes and were lasting a long time. Nearly a minute and a half, but not quite. My longest labor with my other 6 kids was about 8 hours… so passing the 24 hour mark was quite the accomplishment. That I wish on no woman. Ever.
I got out of bed at 6:00 and got into the tub. Hoping for some lessening of the pain. The contractions started coming a lot faster, every 4-5 minutes, but weren’t lasting as long, and were not quite as painful as they had been all night, and I just knew this was going to be another day like the day before. Lots of contractions but nothing else. So, we decided Jason would take the kids skiing and I would go up to mom and dads. I had no outfit to bury a little boy in, so I thought mom and I could go do some shopping. I had talked to mom about coming over the night before. So, the kids got up, they all packed a lunch and I sent them out the door.
Pretty soon I realized I would not be going to my mom’s house. I wouldn’t be going anywhere. The contractions were too close and too painful for me to drive anywhere without putting myself and anyone around me in danger. I decided to see if any of this 34 hour labor had done anything at all.
I texted Richelle. I was feeling lightheaded and started getting a little worried about myself. So I called my mom and told her I wasn’t coming, and asked if dad could come give me a blessing. Then I called my brother Ryan to come over and help my dad. And then Richelle responded.
And I knew, that she knew, that something was happening. So I called Jason. They had just pulled into the parking lot at Sundance. I told him what was happening. I told him I didn’t want to make them come home and then have nothing happen. But I was beginning to think that something was happening. I felt bad I had sent them away, only to call them back before they had any fun. I suggested maybe they should do one quick run and then call me to see what Richelle found out when she got here. He ignored me, talked to the kids, turned around and came straight home. Thank heavens.
My brother Ryan got here first. He helped me through a few contractions, which were now too painful to get through alone. He pushed on my back and held my hand. My mom and dad, my midwife, and my husband and kids got here all at once a little bit later. We sent the kids away, feeling like it might start getting a little…. intense… I had texted Debra and told her what was happening and she was on her way over.
My dad and my brother administered to me, and my brother Ryan gave me a blessing I hope to never forget. It confirmed to my heart that the Lord saw me. Knew me. Knew what I was going through for this little babe that I would only get to hold for hours instead of years. Reminded me that what I was going through for this little angel, was only a small portion of what the Savior went through for me. For each of us. Prayed for it to be as easy as possible, but reminded me there was a process, and to be patient. (I didn’t really like that part.) And then we kicked the boys out. Except Jason of course.
Richelle checked me and I was dilated to a 9. Transition. A sigh of relief through my mind and my body. Today would definitely be the day. I was so grateful Jason was there. That he hadn’t listened to me and gone on just one ski run. I love that he knows when to ignore me. Soon I found out my sister Karen was in town from AZ, and since we had hoped to have the baby in a couple weeks when she would be here, I had invited her on the birth. So she was texted and came over. My husband, my mom, Debra and Karen. Just as I had planned for. And nothing like we had planned for.
Labor progressed quickly, and mercifully I had a few minutes between contractions. With Debra pushing on my back and Karen pushing on my knees, and Jason being strangled through each contraction, it wasn’t too bad. For me. We had decided not to break the water, because we wanted the baby preserved as much as possible. After about an hour we revisited the idea. Richelle told me the reason not to break it was to preserve the baby, and the reason to break it was to lighten the pain, and speed up the process. We decided to have her break the water then. So she did. And on the next contraction our little girl was here.
She was perfect. She was beautiful. And she had the cord wrapped around her neck. Three times.
Another sigh of relief through my heart and my body. My kids could see her, they could hold her and kiss her and be able to remember what she looked like. It was nothing short of miraculous to me. She had beautiful light skin and dark lips, and a head full of dark hair. She weighed 5 lbs 2 oz and was about 18 inches long. And she was a girl. To our shock. And our joy. And there was a reason. The cord, three times. And it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t because I’m too old to be doing this. It wasn’t anything I did wrong. It just was.
And the Lord lifted us up.
We called the kids and had them come home. Come home and meet their little sister. Who would be their little sister for ever. For Ever. And we gave her a name. Emerson Jewell. And as the day wore on, we found out that it was her name, it was perfect and beautiful and just right.
Here she is.
Our kids got home and came in to meet her. And the Lord lifted us up and held us.
And then the people in my life, who I love, began to understand. Why we didn’t just go to the hospital. Why I didn’t just get labor started and have an epidural and save myself all this pain and difficulty. Why it was so important to us to have her at home. Because they all started to feel it. My mom and dad, my brothers and sisters, Jason’s brother and sister. They were there, they got to come and feel it. The spirit spilled into our home and filled every little corner. And our hearts were wrapped up in love for this little girl, and the pain was tucked away for another time, because there simply wasn’t room for it. God is so so good to us.
I handed little Emerson over to her dad for a while and he took her in the living room while we finished up the rest of labor and delivery. Each of the kids got to hold their little sister. They got to look at her little fingers and her little toes, touch her face, kiss her head. Even though it had been 5 days. Even though that seemed impossible to me while I waited and waited for her to come. Like I said, God is so good to us. And His timing was perfect. How could I think I knew better than He did. He knew it had to be Saturday. So everyone could come, everyone could be there and share the miracle of this little girl. It wouldn’t have been possible any other day. And I was humbled to be reminded again how little I know and how God’s timing is always perfect.
We had 5 precious hours with her. Everyone who was there got to hold her. Everyone who was there got to feel her big spirit that just couldn’t fit in that teeny tiny body. And she touched lives. She is a little miracle and I feel so honored to be her mom. She was perfect in every little way, and so precious. I will be forever grateful for the time I got to hold her and kiss her and smell her and love on her. When the mortician came, he told us we could dress her if we wanted to, in the clothes she would be buried in. I will never ever forget that experience as long as I live. Jason helped me clean her up and dress her in her beautiful gown my friend Michelle had given me years before when she believed we would be able to have more babies, even though we had wanted and prayed for so long. Sitting on my bed, surrounded by my kids and my family, with my big strong husband helping me put that tiny little body into the only dress she would ever wear. It was the most tender experience of my life, and I’m so glad we got to share it with the people who love us.
And then we tucked her into her beautiful little casket, with the little white pillow, wrapped up in the blanket her aunt Debra crocheted for her after we found out she had passed. Wrapped up in all the love we could fit in that little bed with her. Everyone left the room and Jason gave her a father’s blessing. The only blessing he would ever be able to give her. And it was perfect and beautiful and I treasure that moment. And the Lord just continued to lift us up and carry us.
And we took a family picture. The only family picture that will have all 7 of my kids in it.
In the end, it has been one of the most beautiful, peaceful, spiritual, loving, amazing experiences of my life. I know that we will see her again. I know that she is ours forever, and one day we will be together. I know that she knows me, that she knows I am her mom, and that I went through everything I did for her because I love her. And I would do it again. Again and again, to have her forever. I never thought we would go through this, but even if I had, I never could have imagined how fully and completely the atonement of our Savior, and the spirit of God could take away our pain and our hurt and fill us with love and with peace. I am a mom to seven kids. 5 girls and 2 boys. And I love them so much. I am a wife to the strongest, kindest, most amazing man on this earth. Oh how richly I am blessed!