Now that my husband was home, it was time to have our baby!
On Divine Mercy Sunday, I totally thought it was time. When I started having strong contractions, I called my sister-in-law, who had generously agreed to watch our son while we were in the hospital. Because my parents were sick with COVID, she was the only one in the family able to do this crucial task.
My husband and I arrived at the hospital, but they sent me home with the diagnosis: Braxton Hicks, or practice contractions.
We made the drive of shame back home to my sister-in-law.
“Baby says it’s not time yet,” I sighed.
“That’s okay,” my sister-in-law said. “Just make sure it’s the real thing next time, right?”
Two days later, I started having contractions again. I perused my notes from the last hospital visit.
“Don’t call until contractions are 2-5 minutes apart,” I read out loud. Another tight, painful contraction made me pause for breath.
“Hey Mary,” my husband asked, “Do you want to finish the taxes tonight?”
My intuition told me that baby was coming.
“Sure,” I agreed. “Why not?”
As I signed the tax forms, I sensed something changing inside of me. Later, I started packing food, clothing, and other supplies for the hospital.
I counted the space between each contraction. Ten minutes apart.
Ten minutes apart, strong enough to wake me, all night long.
Is this the real deal?
By mid-morning the next day, April 22, 2020, I felt confident enough to call my sister-in-law again. We left for the hospital after lunch.
When we arrived, the nurses checked our temperatures, loaded us up with hand sanitizer, and gave us "I am healthy" stickers.
A half hour later, the triage nurses examined me.
“Eight centimeters dilated,” one of them reported. “My, you’re almost ready to push!”
I couldn’t help but grin, even through the next contraction. I was having a natural, unmedicated birth, which I had really wanted. My husband was with me. Neither of us had gotten sick. And my son was safe at home with family.
I was entering the final stages of labor, and I couldn’t have been happier.
“I’ve never seen anyone smile so much during labor,” my nurse observed, once we were in our private delivery room. The hospital hallways were eerily silent, because of the pandemic. No guests or visitors allowed.
Compared to everything that we’ve been through during the last year, I thought, giving birth has been the easiest part.
“Okay, you can push now!” The nurses and midwife exclaimed.
So I pushed. For three hours. My contractions never got closer than ten minutes, so I did my best to make each push really count.
What if I get too tired to push the baby out? I wondered grimly. What if she stays in here forever?
“Okay, go ahead and push again.”
“You can do this, Mary!” My husband cheered me on. He pushed his mask back over his nose, looking stressed.
I grimaced in pain. My cord rosary, which had been with me from the beginning of this journey, was clutched firmly in my left hand.
I can do this, I told myself, steeling myself for the next push. I have to!
And then she came—our beautiful daughter Elizabeth Rose. Born at 6:59 pm on April 22, 2020. Earth Day. A wet, snowy day in southeast Michigan.
Her new life dawned at Beaumont Hospital, one of the main treatment centers for COVID patients in metro Detroit. The number of COVID deaths in Michigan reached its peak the day before her birthday.
Elizabeth was born just at the turning of the tide.
When I got to hold her in my arms and press her to my chest, joy filled my whole being.
“Hello, Elizabeth,” I said for the first time. “Welcome to Earth.”
Our baby girl was born in April 2020. My husband and I went on quite a journey to bring her into this world.
As we approach my daughter’s first birthday, I rejoice in the gift of our baby girl. Her future, like the future of our world, is wrapped in mystery. Yet I believe she will indeed go beyond these troubled times. She was born in a time of darkness, but she will not stay there. My child will go beyond me—her life, her mission. I will care for her when she is young, and then she will grow. She will increase, and I will decrease.
For this was God’s plan for us—a sign of contradiction to the world. A marvelous, beautiful sign of life.
So when times get hard: still baby girl, smile on!
Thank you so much for reading Elizabeth's story! Join me next week as I continue the tale of my spiritual journey to the convent.
About the Author:
Mary Rose Kreger lives in the metro Detroit area with her family, where she writes fantasy tales for teens, and blogs about her spiritual journey: before, during, and after the convent.
Mary also shares faith-based poems and fantasy quotes on her Instagram account, @faithandfantasy1.