Every pregnancy and every birth has added new and memorable pages to our family story. While some of our birth stories have been somewhat smooth sailing, others have been a bit more eventful.
With Henry it was the hospital mix-up coupled with a "no room at the inn" scenario. Our doctor's office called us the day before I was scheduled to be induced only to relay the fabulous news that we couldn't deliver at our chosen hospital due to insurance restrictions (whee!!). When we arrived for check-in at the "approved" hospital, the maternity ward was under construction and they wouldn't have a room available for us for 24 hours - super convenient. Needless to say everything worked out peachy.
With Charlie, 7 days before my due date, I was browsing through a book store with the boys when *surprise!* my water broke. Driving myself to the hospital with contractions 3 minutes apart was all sorts of fun. All I remember about the drive was Beethoven was playing on the Symphony Hall radio station that morning, but even his melancholic melodies couldn't slow my contractions or the speedometer down.
I didn't think that story could be topped, but oh, boy was I ever wrong! Joseph was not about to be outdone by his older brothers...
For days leading up to Joseph's birth, I felt a slow decline in enthusiasm and hope that our child would ever decide to make an appearance. Out of frustration, I decided to abandon all efforts to keep the house clean, laundry baskets empty or to rest whenever possible. Instead, I rebelliously decided that giving Charlie's room a make-over (which turned out so cute, and I promise pics soon!), baking unnecessary amounts of sweet things and hauling kids all over creation to football camps and swimming lessons would keep my mind off of my uncooperative midsection.
(We had been quite the pair during the previous months, shuffling around with our bulging bellies, trying not to look miserable.)
The morning was chilly and overcast, the air damp from the night's rain showers. Sure enough, I found Rose beneath the deck, curled up tightly with three of her newborn puppies. I had been remarking sarcastically all week that if Rose gave birth before I did, I was going take her to the pound. Kidding, of course! (Hormones can make a girl say the ca-raziest things!) I will admit, however, to being slightly jealous.
We had prepared a little nest for Rose in the garage, hoping she would bed down and give birth there, but animals will do as they please and apparently she thought laboring on a pile of rocks on the cold damp earth was a better option. Whatever. I waddled back into the house to grab Benedict who helped me gather the puppies and relocate them to the garage where it was dry and warm.
Off to swimming lessons I went, still contracting, still in denial that the little clinchers would actually get with it any time soon. I mingled with friends, snapped a few pics of the boys and headed back to the ranchero for lunch. And, that's when the belly started getting busy. Could it be? After 10 days of on/off contractions, could this really be the day we'd been waiting for?
Trying to contain my excitement - I didn't want to jinx anything - I made lunch for the crew, including Steve who was in a field just a few miles away bailing wheat straw and waiting for me to arrive with his lunch. I pulled up to the field, handed him his cooler, and shouted out over the roar of the tractor, "Keep your phone close, we're going to the hospital today!"
After such an eventful morning, I was ready for everything to slow down, to find some quiet and relax until it was time to go to the hospital. But, first, I knew I needed to check on Rose. To my great surprise, she had given birth to 4 more squealing pups! After a long night and morning, it was evident that she was exhausted, as she struggled to lift her head to reach her babies.
Before I was finished assessing the newborns, she began delivering another pup, but this one was taking a long time, and I could tell that without assistance, the pup may not survive. I spent the next 20 minutes helping Rose through the final stages of labor, moving the newborns close to her so she could lick them until they were clean and ready to nurse. The boys came eagerly in and out of the garage to count Rose's progress. They were completely enthralled with the whole event, but had no idea I was in labor too!
During this entire episode, my contractions were definitely in full swing. I kept thinking to myself, c'mon Rose, can you finish up here so I can go have my baby? I'm sure the situation would have made for some sweet reality show footage. Mother of 5 helps golden retriever deliver 8 puppies just moments before sprinting to the hospital to give birth to her own baby.
By this time, my contractions were serious. Rose, baby, you're on your own. I called Steve and, in a semi-desperate voice, told him to put that tractor in park and bust it home, because it was time to go have a baby! Before I knew it, we were in the car narrowing the 30 mile distance between hospital and home.
When we arrived, I just kept thinking about how quickly Charlie came, so I was very eager to get changed and settled into my room. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about having to go through the "preliminary evaluation" station where they determine whether or not you're actually in labor.
Really. Really??? Don't 5 time deliverees get a pass on that one?? Can't you just take our experienced word for it?? Steve and I didn't know whether to laugh out loud or scream when, after 45 minutes of being strapped to monitors, a quiet, young (did I mention young?) doctor casually sauntered in, looked at the rolls of paper spilling out of the beeping machine and declared, "Well, it looks as though you're having contractions!"
These are the times when I kick myself for never having mastered a foreign language. Being able to let my feelings flow freely in Gaelic would have been super handy in that moment without offending doctor what's-her-name. Anyway, somehow, I managed to charitably (although I'm sure my eyeballs were blazing from lack of sleep and frustration all in one pretty little look) to convince her to call my OB for the "OK" for me to stay. I was not. going. home!
Thanks to Dr. Jensen, within minutes I was out cruising the halls, stopping every couple of minutes to grip Steve's hand as the pain became more and more intense. (This is where having your prayer intentions to meditate on became an even greater blessing to me, but more on that later.) In just a little more than an hour, I was surrounded by a team of fantastic nurses, my doctor and Steve, ready to push.
That very moment, when the doc announces that I'm fully dilated and can push is my favorite time in the birth process. With every single baby, Steve and I cry tears of joy and hold each other tight, knowing we are just moments away from meeting the very soul our love has created and been longing for for months.
Out of all the boys, Henry was the most connected to Joseph during my pregnancy. He hugged my tummy many times each day and would whisper, "I love you!" to the baby. He proudly tells everyone, "Jospeh loves me the best, because I hugged him lots when he was in mommy's tummy. That's how he knows me!"
Father and Sons...
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
~ Psalm 127:4-5