Mercy Reign was born Saturday, February 3 at 4:43am by way of C-section after 48 hours of intense, unmedicated labor. She was frank breech, 9 pounds, 9 ounces and 23 inches long! Mercy was extra-well done (haha) at 41weeks and 3days, extra-large, extra cozy, folded completely in half, and slightly transverse, likely due to how long she was! This was not the birth story I wanted, it was the birth story God knew we needed.
Zach and I did everything we could to prepare for a home (water) birth, something we both dreamed of having. We prayed. We took A Heavenly Welcome's Kingdom Childbirth Class and the 8 week Mama Natural Online Birth class. We chose an amazing Christian midwife with 29 years experience who thoroughly cared for, educated and encouraged us from 9 weeks pregnant through the "4th trimester". We both read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth book, Hypnobirthing and Supernatural Childbirth. (UPDATE 11/8/19: After an extremely traumatic & extended postpartum journey, God has taught me A LOT. I absolutely do not recommend the book Supernatural Childbirth, which is recommended in the Kingdom Childbirth Class, and the subtly false theology it teaches. This was a pivotal stumbling block for me that nearly destroyed my faith and spiraled me into deeper postpartum depression. I have since learned of thousands of women who have had the same story. Stay tuned for more teaching on this. I have since discovered a solid, Bible-based pre & postnatal ministry, course & resource called Courageous Mom to help me recover and prepare for another pregnancy, if God wills.)
Also, a word on Hypnobirthing for those whose "New Age radar" just went up: Chew on the meat & spit out the "New Age" bones - most of the info on what happens in the woman's body during pregnancy, labor and birth + the breathing techniques in this book were very accurate and helpful though I don't recommend the cd or some of the weird visualizations.
Ok, back to my story: The Lord specifically instructed me on how to prepare my body before getting pregnant, after He gave me the dream about Mercy. He gave me the words TRUST and DISCIPLINE, and challenged me to get a 1-year chronological Bible to read for 2017 (as of March 2018 I've almost completed it...hahaha...better to finish with grace than become legalistic and ashamed, right?!). I also felt the Lord instruct me to start pilates reformer classes to prepare my structure, as I was just coming off of a serious back injury involving 2 bulged discs and severe muscle spasms. He advised me to lighten my load and work on my adrenal glands/hormones, as my periods had gotten painful and a bit irregular after prolonged high stress. The Lord also nudged me to finally change over the last of my makeup/skincare regimen. I had been using Bare Esscentuals for years and justified that it was "natural enough." I finally took the time to see how EVERYTHING I was using on my face/body ranked on the EWG- Skin Deep App and did my research to find the BEST, most pure and complete cosmetic line once and for all. (I hate changing makeup/searching for new products!) There are hundreds of serious carcinogens, hormone disruptors & other toxins in most makeup/skin care products. I still make my own body butter and anti-aging skin serum, both of which I used (mixed together) for stretch mark prevention throughout the whole pregnancy (and I didn't get a single stretchmark with my 55 extra pounds of Mercy!!!). I had pages of birth declarations and scriptures (you're welcome to use them) typed up that I meditated on for weeks to keep my mind constantly renewed and excited versus afraid. Aside from those specifics, I was already eating super clean and healthy, teaching Indoor Cycling classes 2 times per week and working a balanced schedule. I took responsibility and trained accordingly, as I knew childbirth was not something to "just wing".
Everything the Lord advised me to do paid off and served its purpose. I had a wonderful pregnancy despite the fact that it was "God's plan" and not our own in the end. Mercy was head down until 35 weeks when she flipped. My amazing Chiropractor, who specializes in pregnancy and pediatric care, is who suspected she was breech and referred me out for emergency ultrasound for confirmation on Christmas Eve (35.5 weeks). Praise God for the wise words from a dear friend who reminded me: "Remember, home birth isn't the ultimate goal, a health mommy and baby is". That was Truth I needed to remember for such a time as this. This pregnancy and birth experience took me to another level of surrender and trust, once again reminding me that we are not in control. I so desperately wanted to have this baby naturally and at home. I fully believed that God was going to honor "the desires of my heart".
We prayed fervently through the end of my pregnancy and had so many others praying (even fasting for us). We did everything to get her to turn (Webster technique, Chiropractic care, Acupuncture, Moxibustion, External Cephalic Version 3 times, inversion exercises from SpinningBabies.com, essential oils, homeopathies to increase my amniotic fluid making more room for baby to move, etc). We were still lead to try to have a home birth instead of cave to C-section immediately since there were zero complications, and I was healthy and low risk through my entire pregnancy. We had to hire Dr. Stuart Fischbein (with Dr. Milo Chavira on call, his backup which is who we ended up with because Dr. Stu was out of town when I went into labor... the plot thickens!) the only Obstetricians in the area who specialize in vaginal breech HOME (or birth center) birth. Sadly, California law will not allow a breech home birth with a midwife any longer (don't get me started on that!). It is pretty much exclusively hospital policy here to force women with breech babies to have a surgical birth and not even allow them to try to deliver naturally. God kept opening doors of hope and possibility.
Something I learned from our amazing and very experienced birth team through this journey: If you are trying to deliver a breech baby vaginally, induction and intervention are major no-no's. (Of course, I'm not a fan of either unless they are truly MEDICALLY NECESSARY anyway. One intervention often quickly leads to a whole cascade of interventions, which can have adverse effects on mommy and baby). Because Mercy could not descend through the birth canal due to her position and size, my contractions never developed a regular pattern into active labor, and I never dilated past 4 cm. I had MANY 10-15 minute, excruciating, back-to-back surges as my uterus did its job to TRY to bring her down. I fought to have her naturally, but it eventually became medically necessary to transfer after 40 hours of labor. My water had been broken for nearly 48 hours. I had to surrender.
This was my Garden of Gethsemane.
“...Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” -Matthew 26:39 NKJV
There were some incredibly HOLY moments late in my labor where tears flowed from the depths of my soul. I was able to dance and worship, feeling almost zero pain for a couple hours!! I had a supernatural breakthrough and clearly heard the Lord speaking to me about restoring the family unit, the ancient ruins (Isaiah 61), and the places that have been long devastated through many generations. He spoke to us about making all things new through us, a fresh start, a new and healthy generation, and encouragement that I don't have to be afraid of me or Zach doing the things I witnessed growing up. These have been deep, tormenting and paralyzing fears throughout my life. The Lord "delivered" me as I was delivering my daughter into the world. I was fully surrendered at that point and HOLY is the only way to describe it.
Perhaps if my birth story had been "easy", I would have missed out on the healing that only comes through the kind of pain that brings you to your knees. I could quickly get caught up in grieving and re-living my birth story, wallowing in the emotions and making it an idol. Instead I CHOOSE to simply trust The Lord and thank Him for this baby girl that was worth it all!! After all, I don't "deserve" anything. Anything the Lord gives is a gift of grace in reality.
Ultimately we had our home birth...with a cesarean delivery and a healthy baby. We did everything we could and therefore, will never have any regrets. In God's mercy and grace, Miss Mercy Reign never once showed any sign of fetal distress through the entire labor or birth or postpartum!! Thank you Jesus!!!
We are in love!!! Mercy is so strong and healthy and BEAUTIFUL and FUN and squishy and delicious!!!! God's MERCY truly REIGNS and we can be grateful His plans are better than ours will ever be!!!
THANK YOU to ALL who have prayed, called, sent cards and gifts, celebrated and journeyed with us!!!
Psalm 136:1 "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER."
FUN FACT: A breech presentation is a variation of normal (like us! haha), not a pregnancy complication. It occurs in 3-4% of pregnancies and no one really knows why. Vaginal delivery is ideal for a low-risk breech baby so long as you have a properly trained birth assistant (OB or Midwife). The real problem is that medical schools are no longer training Doctors how to deliver breech babies, so there is a LOT of fear-mongering around this topic. Just as many, if not more, things can go wrong during C-section delivery of a breech baby if a Doctor isn't properly trained (brachial plexus injuries, etc). It is still wise to avoid a surgical birth whenever possible unless it is truly medically necessary like mine ultimately was.
On 7/23/17 we found out that Baby G was a Baby GIRL!!!
Mercy Reign Grimm
Zach & I weren't sure we wanted kids. At 37 you can imagine how many comments & questions (and even rumors) there has been as to WHY we don't have kids yet. We trusted if kids were God's plan for us that He would change our hearts & prepare us, in HIS time. My prayer was simply this: "God if you desire us to have children, then put the desire on BOTH our hearts... AND... will you inspire Zach to ask me for a baby?" God was not tapping His watch and rolling His eyes at us ;) God had us focused on our own personal growth & healing & strengthening our marriage BEFORE bringing kids into this crazy world. There's been A LOT to overcome if you know our story ;)
Well, God answered both prayers! Last July I held my friend's newborn baby and I loved it!! Then, I had a dream (yes, again). God planted a strong & sudden desire in my heart to have a baby. In the dream, He told me it would be a girl and He gave me her name (Mercy Reign). I woke with a strong desire to have a baby! Within a short time, Zach started talking about wanting kids! We were surrendered to His plans & His timing.
When I was 24, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I was told I would likely never be able to have kids. (I NEVER BELIEVED THEM!) My Doctor pushed for a hysterectomy OR a "minor surgery" to "clip" my sacral nerves (so I couldn't feel my uterus/pain... which would also cut off "function" to my uterus!) The other option was to take Leupron which would immediately put my body into menopause. What?! Ironically I worked for Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in St. Louis, MO at the same time making this exact drug. I KNEW what went into it. I said no! I was not saved and knew little about health back then, but I KNEW something had to have CAUSED this endometriosis. I knew there had to be a better answer. I opted for birth control pills (the lesser evil at the time) and made some drastic changes. This was a turning point in my life. This is when I quit working in the Pharmaceutical Industry and made the terrifying decision to go back to school and get my Doctorate. I was determined to "fix myself." THIS is ultimately how I got saved (moving to Nashville after graduation... still desperate & broken)... and what God used to launch me onto a journey of health, wholeness & freedom I never knew was possible! Obviously there are hours of testimony between then and now...
SO...fast forward to last Fall 2016, after the dream. I was coming off of an insanely busy & stressful season. I could tell my body needed a "reset" before trying to get pregnant. Wisdom said: WAIT on the Lord. It was so worth it. My periods were suddenly all over the place. I was overwhelmed and exhausted. The stress of the 2 years prior had taken their toll on my body. Making and having a baby is serious business and CAN BE an enjoyable, healthy, nearly painless experience if we "train" properly for it. Most misacrriages and infertility are preventable. So I spent last fall getting acupuncture, cleansing, resting and letting my hormones re-balance (as the Lord lead). We thought we were ready in November...and the Spiritual war began! NOVEMBER: Zach got heavy metal poisoning at work from soldering old cast iron pipes. Not good for making a baby and birth defects! DECEMBER (ovulation time again): I bulged 2 discs in my back with severe muscle sprain. Had to close my office for 3 weeks! Not possible to make a baby ;) JANUARY: Still recovering from back injury. (Still not God's timing) FEBRUARY: God confirms I'm supposed to open a new office & provides the space! (But God! I thought you wanted us to have a baby! Are you SURE I should be opening a new office??? Shouldn't I stay home & keep it simple???) ...Questioning God...Busy....More warfare...Shift of focus (temporarily)... Still not pregnant... MARCH: all focus is on opening new office. BUSY again. More warfare! Ovulation seems to come & go at the worst times! ...still not pregnant. Trusting. Doubting. Trusting. Doubting. APRIL: Still getting settled in new office... actually got to "try" to get pregnant...more warfare...but still not God's timing.
Now, I must say, if I were the devil and knew someone was going to bring a little God-fearing warrior into this world....I'D TRY TO STOP THEM, TOO!!! But God...Satan and these "obstacles" were simply tools that GOD ALLOWED to get us where God wanted us and were all part of God's perfect time, order and plan.
MAY: Mercy Reign Grimm was conceived!!! God's perfect timing. He gave us what we didn't deserve (Mercy). We both abused sex, our bodies and our "worldly freedom" to take care of the consequences of our past sin. I used to advocate for "women's rights" and abortion. BUT GOD...He is merciful and faithful. Even in my sin and ignorance, He gave me the wisdom to say no to a hysterectomy over 13 years ago for such a time as this. We never had to battle infertility. We simply had to be patient to wait on His timing. A January baby is perfect for us. We are so humbled and excited about being Mercy's parents and give all glory to our good God!! His love and grace never run out. He has given us beauty for ashes and redeemed all that the enemy meant for destruction!!!
"You are blessed because BECAUSE YOU BELIEVED that the Lord would do what He said"
-Luke 1:45 NLT