Marching into April with Grace

Date: April 5, 2011
Location: Quito, Ecuador

It is often said that “time flies,” but it usually doesn’t seem to apply to me when I’m in the last month of my pregnancies.  The month of March seemed to last forever as Stephen and I speculated whether or not our third child would arrive before or after the month’s end.  As each week went by, it became more and more certain that our child did not want to be born in March.

For those of you who received our birth announcement on Sunday, April 3, you will know that our baby did arrive this past Saturday on April 2.  Now that we are home from the hospital, we’d like to share the experience (and some pictures) with you.

Grace Erin Meier

Please browse our blog to find out more about the following:
1) The Birth of Grace Erin Meier (our little GEM) -Family News Link
2) From Texas to Thailand: Which way will the Mk Meier Family be heading for Stephen’s new job next year? -Ministry Link
3) The March Flood of 2011 in the Meier Home -TCK Views Link
4) Financial Challenges and other prayer requests -Home Page Link

Thanks for taking the time to stay in touch with us.  We especially appreciate all the e-mails that were sent after the birth of our daughter.  They were very encouraging and I look forward to responding personally to each one of them soon. Feel free to e-mail us, write a note on Facebook, leave a comment on this blog, give us a call on our Vonage phone or call us up on Skype. We’d love to hear from you.

Blessings in Christ,

Cristina, Stephen, Jared, Luke and….debuing our little GEM (Grace Erin Meier)

The Birth of Grace Erin Meier (our little GEM)

As I came into my final month of pregnancy, the burning question was how long I should continue working.  I had watched several of my pregnant co-workers work up until their due date and even past it.  I had never had the opportunity to reach my due date with my first two children, but I had decided that I didn’t want to work until the point of 40 weeks of pregnancy (if by some small chance I made it that long).

However, I was not sure if I should keep working until the day I gave birth.  So, after some consideration, I decided to work until the end of my 39th week if, indeed, I did make it that far. 

As my 39th week approached, so did a lot of other stress factors that will be discussed later on in this blog (flood, finances, etc.)  Stephen told me that I should stop working earlier than that, because I was allowed to stop working after 38 weeks even if I had not given birth. 

I ended up teaching my final day on Thursday, March 31 and handed over my classes to a very competent permanent substitute who would teach my class for the rest of the school year.  Friday morning (April 1), I hosted one last meeting/party with my high school civics club and sighed in relief after having completed all my teaching duties. 

That afternoon, as I did my shopping for the following week, I began to feel a lot of tightening in my stomach as “false” contractions took place while I pushed the grocery cart around the store.  I wasn’t sure if they were a sign of anything besides my own fatigue.  So, I decided that I would monitor them after I went to bed.

That night I went to bed feeling a little strange, but decided to wait and see what would happen after a good night’s rest.  I woke up twice that night with a very distinct feeling that I was having a contraction.  However, they were three hours apart, so I didn’t do anything about until the following morning when I was having them every hour to every half hour.  By 8am, I knew I had to call my doctor.  He had told me the previous afternoon at my 39 week check up that I was 2 cm dilated and that I needed to let him know ASAP when I started having contractions.

“This is your third child and it will come a lot faster,” he told me.

Nevertheless, I was still surprised when he told me that he wanted me to go to the hospital right away.  I was a little annoyed as I took my shower and got dressed and started calls to the people who had agreed to watch my boys in case I went in to labor over the weekend.  My contractions were still between 30 minutes to an hour apart.  They were very light and my water hadn’t even broken yet as it had with both of my previous pregnancies.

Cristina smiles because her contractions aren't very painful yet.

Stephen and I kissed our boys as we left and said that baby Grace would be coming out of mommy’s tummy soon and that they would be able to visit when mommy and baby Grace were ready.  Luke didn’t quite understand why he couldn’t come to the hospital with us, but Jared was content to watch us leave.  Just the night before, I had given the boys a couple of gift bags with a baby toy in each of them and told them that they could give the presents to baby Grace when she was born.  Jared was really excited about that prospect and promised to help his baby sitters find everything that he and Luke needed while we were gone.  It made me proud of my 3 and a half year old son to see him step up to be the “big brother.”

We arrived at the hospital shortly before 10am and found my doctor anxiously awaiting us in the emergency room entrance.  He whisked us into an examination room where he confirmed my suspicion that I was not that far along in the delivery process.  I was still only 2 cm dilated and the fetal monitor had not picked up any contractions in 10 minutes.

So, my doctor said that we could wait in the room until the hospital checked me in and that he would come back later to see how I had progressed.  He mentioned that if my contractions did not become more regular in the next couple hours, he would give me something to speed up the process.  It seems he was determined that I give birth that day. 

I looked at Stephen in annoyance and said, “I do not want be induced!”

I was still hooked up the fetal monitor as different nurses and hospital representatives prepared paperwork and tests to admit me to the hospital.  Meanwhile, I began to feel more contractions.  I had two within the following twenty minutes and one of them was a lot stronger than any of the previous contractions I had been having so far.

By 11am, they were wheeling me into the labor room where I would give birth.  As I waited for Stephen to arrive, I realized that my contractions were already coming a lot quicker than they had before.  I noticed that they were now 10 minutes apart.  After Stephen came to the room, he noticed the television and began to flip through the cable channels.  I tolerated the distraction for the time being as I walked around the room waiting for contractions to come and go.

By noon, Stephen noted that my contractions were coming every two to three minutes and were lasting about 45 seconds to a minute.  Shortly afterwards, I felt too tired to walk around and began to sit down on the bed.  Suddenly, I could no longer tolerate the television.

“Turn that thing off now!” I ordered him in frustration. “I need you to focus on me, please!”

The nurses must have noticed the sudden change in my tone of voice, because one lady came running in and asked me how far apart my contractions were coming.  When I told her that they were coming every two minutes, she said she would call for the doctor.  She came scurrying back and said that she was told to check my dilation.  I was surprised when she told me that I had already dilated to 9cm. 

The room became a flurry of action as nurses began to bring in everything needed for the delivery.  I took the time to call Jared and Luke one last time.  They were eating lunch and getting ready to take a nap.  When I got off the phone, I didn’t even notice any pain for about a couple minutes.  However, the next contraction was so strong I knew that I would want to push soon. 

“Where’s the doctor?” I asked.

Just then, he arrived and measured me again.  I was 10 cm dilated, but the baby had not come down yet.

“Try not to push,” he told me.

The next ten minutes were a rush over my system.  The moment the doctor sat down in front of me, it felt like a roller coaster was let loose and I had the greatest desire to push.

“Hold on! Not so fast!” my doctor told me.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” I said as I tried to hold back what felt like a waterfall of contractions that were coming all at the same time. “I can’t stop pushing!”

“O.K. O.K.  Just slow down,” he said.  “She’s coming.”

And suddenly in two pushes, she had arrived.  I looked down and saw her little bottom sticking up in the air as the doctor cut her free and handed her to the nurse.  My pediatrician did not arrive until 10 minutes after the baby was born because it all happened so quickly.  (Note: In Ecuador, it is customary that both the attending physician and the pediatrician be present at the time of a baby’s birth.)

Grace reaches out to her daddy.

The time was 12:40pm.  Grace Erin Meier was born on April 2, 2011, on the 97th birthday of her great-grandmother (on Stephen’s side of the family) with the same initials (GEM). She weighed 2.7 kilos which is approximately 6 pounds and measured the length of 47 cm, which is approximately 18 ½ inches long.

The doctor began to stitch me up as we waited for the placenta to release.  After thirty minutes, it was apparent that the placenta was not coming out on its own.  This same thing had happened with the birth of my second son, Luke.  He called the anesthesiologist to put me under so that he could manually extract the placenta.

By 3pm, I was waking up again and in the recovery room.  It wasn’t until 4pm that they wheeled me into my bedroom and I was able to see my baby again.  I stayed in the hospital for two days and returned home on Monday around noon to the two very excited big brothers anxiously awaiting the return of their mother and baby sister.

We are all very happy to be home as we get acquainted with the newest member of the family.

The Meier children together for the first time.

From Texas to Thailand: Where are the Mk Meiers going?

In my February update,I mentioned that I was running a single-family home as Stephen was globe trotting to find a new administrative position that would support us financially and allow me to stay at home for a few years with our three kids.  After many inquiries, applications, forms and interviews, it seemed that the opportunities were narrowing themselves down to two locations.  It was going to be either Texas or Thailand.  Besides the fact that they both start with the letter “T” and are less than an hour away from the ocean, the similarities end there. 

Texas is only one time zone away where Thailand is 12 time zones away.  Texas gets a fair balance of heat and cold throughout the year, where Thailand is a consistent, tropical and humid climate.  They speak Thai in Thailand and…well, you know what they speak in Texas. Of course, Texas is part of the United States and would mean that we would no longer be working in an international community in the way that we could in Thailand and the way that we have grown to love in Ecuador. 

After visiting both schools, Stephen felt positive about working in either location.  I began to pray that God would make it obvious where we should go, because it was looking like a hard decision to make.  When Stephen returned to Ecuador, neither school had officially offered a position.  So, I prayed that God would close the door in Texas if he really wanted us to go to Thailand.

A few days later, the school in Texas offered us a wonderful financial package that opened a financial opportunity for me to stop working and for us to be able to afford to live in the U.S. once again.  After talking to the director in the school in Thailand once again, we felt that God was guiding Stephen to accept the position as ‘Head of School’ for Brazosport Christian School in Lake Jackson, Texas.

We feel at peace in knowing where we will be going next year, since we have been waiting so long for God’s direction in this decision.  We hope and pray to be able to return to the mission field at some point in the future, but believe that God will provide many avenues of ministry to serve him in this new position as the head of a school in a small community of Lake Jackson, Texas. 

Now, it is time to enjoy the last few months of our time at the Alliance Academy International and try to make closure in our hearts as we prepare to leave the country that we have enjoyed ministering in so much in the past three years.  The move is not an easy one, because we have grown to appreciate the community and the students that we work with here.  But we know that God is calling us to move on and we are ready to follow his leading.

The March Flood of 2011 in the Meier Home

It was a cloudy afternoon on Thursday, March 24, when I left my house to teach my two computer classes.  My students were going to be taking a test that day, so I knew I was going to be on my feet most of the time, making sure everyone kept their eyes on their own papers (and computers) and to be able to answer any questions they might have.

As I walked around the room, I started to hear the sound of rain hitting the roof.  I looked out the far window behind the teacher’s desk and saw….nothing.  I thought that was very strange.  So, I walked over to the other side of the room.  Sure enough, there was rain falling on that side of the building.  It was a light rain, but it only in that location.  I thought it was very strange to see rain on one side of the building and not the other. 

The sky however did appear to be growing darker as the class continued.  Near the end of my first class, it seemed as if someone had turned over a huge bucket in the sky and the rain began to thunder down all around us. 

I didn’t think much of it until about ten minutes into my second computer class.  Suddenly, my phone began to ring.  I felt a little annoyed wondering who would call me when I’m in class.  I don’t like to answer my phone in class, but I decided to check to see who might be calling and I noticed that it was the nanny.  When I called her back, she sounded frantic.

She said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but the house is flooding!  Water is pouring into the kitchen and the bathrooms and I don’t know how to keep the water out and keep the children from getting into the water.” 

I assured her that I would call someone as soon as possible to get over there and help her. I immediately called Stephen and told him the situation and then tried to finish my class without worrying too much about my children at home.  As soon as my class ended, I ran home to find out that the rain storm had dropped so much water in a short time that the water pipes underground had overflowed up through the drains in our house.  The drain in the kitchen, both bathrooms and down the hallway from our house became fountains of water as they pumped water into our home.

Fortunately, Stephen ran home right away and helped the maid sweep the water back out of doors as it came pouring in.  So, the six inches of potential water flow became only one inch standing on the ground.  Another fortunate thing was that the worst of the flooding took place in the area of the house with tile floor.  There was one room with that rug that got extremely wet.  The other two bedrooms only got water through the front entrances. 

The spare bedroom rug got the most damage.

Our living room furniture stands in a pool of water


The master bath flooded our bedroom and the corner of the room where Grace's bed is located.


For the next few days, we did everything we could to dry out the rugs, and then try to remove the smell of dirt and mustiness.  We used heaters to dry the rug, carpet cleaner and powder to try to remove the smells, but it wasn’t working very well.  Our entire home began to smell like an old, sweaty locker by the fifth day. 

The decision was made to remove all the carpets from our home in order to remove the risk of carpets molding.  The risk was higher for us, because we live in a basement and it is hard to get fresh air in there to dry out the floor. 

It was a stressful time for me, Cristina, especially because of the approaching due date of my child.  However, we were able to get all the carpet out of the house and the floors cleaned by Friday, April 1, just in time for Cristina to go into labor.

Financial Challenges and other prayer requests

It has been an amazing three years living in the faith that God will provide for all our needs.  We knew that moving into this ministry in Ecuador meant a huge drop in pay and a huge leap of faith in trusting that God would provide the money we would need for living here.  One of our biggest challenges has been keeping renters in our townhouse in West Virginia.

Our first year in Ecuador, we continued to pay our mortgage for an empty home for eight months before a renter was willing to sign a contract.  That renter stayed in the apartment for a year and four months before she left.  That brought us to a big financial burden at the end of our second year in Ecuador.  This burden was made greater as our financial supporters found it difficult to continue to support us at the same level.  Fewer and few donations have come in this year than the other two years.

Fortunately, we went only one month without renters that summer.  However, the renter only stayed for two months before leaving unexpectedly.  Between the months of October 2010 and February 2011, we had no news of renters interested in home.  Finally, we received word that someone was interested in moving into our townhouse, but that she wanted to wait until April to move in.  She gave a deposit to our realtors in order to insure that our home would not be rented to someone else until she was able to move into the townhouse in April. 

In spite of the financial burden we’ve had since then, we’ve been able to pay our bills in the past six months without any renters, but our debt has been increasing instead of decreasing ever since. 

We are now looking at the same level of debt that we had when we first moved to Ecuador and it is hard not to be concerned about the next few months of our future.  Please pray for us to continue to stay at peace with God’s provision during this time.

Homecoming Flowers for Baby Grace

Some other prayer requests for our family include:

1) Stephen’s grandfather (his dad’s father) passed away last month.  Pray for God’s joy and peace for the Meier family as they grieve the loss of this loved one.

2) Cristina’s brother and sister in law started the process of trying to adopt a child from Ethiopia.  However, the entire process has come to a standstill and it appears that they may not be able to adopt a child after all and will not be reimbursed for the money they have put into the adoption program thus far.

3) Kurt Meier (Stephen’s brother) continues to heal from his accident last month.  Keep praying that he will return to full health and be able to go back to work. 

4) Cristina’s quick recovery from giving birth and for the entire family as they adjust to being a family of five.