Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Joseph's Birth Story - All That and a Litter of Puppies

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.
On the Morning of June 19, I woke up with more of those ho-hum contractions and went about ignoring them as usual.  Before loading up the troops for swimming lessons, I stepped outside for just a moment of fresh air, and that's when I heard a faint whimpering coming from below the deck.  I knew instantly that Rose had finally had her puppies.

(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.

Joseph William Karol was born at 6:58 p.m.  He weighed exactly 8 pounds, and measured 21.25 inches long.
Immediately, the nurses lifted him into my arms and I was able to hold him for the longest time (Steve got to hold him too!) before they measured, weighed and bathed him.  It was wonderful having that precious bonding time alone together.
The next day, Steve's parents brought the boys in to meet their little brother.  Words cannot express just how much I look forward to and treasure the moment we get to introduce a new sibling to the family.  I treasure this first encounter so very much - the looks of love, of surprise, of wonder, of joy. Some of them have so much to say, others are content to ponder the beauty of new life silently.
Charlie was the first big bro on the scene.  He walked right up to Joseph and with a huge grin asked, "Is this our baby??" He was so delighted! We've been in stitches with him since day one, because he cannot say Joseph.  To Charlie, it's Jo-phis.  Jophis has become his most affectionate nickname.
George, who is wildly enthusiastic about life, takes on a very sweet and calm disposition when he holds Joseph.  It's really neat to see them together in this way.
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!"
Andrew is always the quiet one with newborns.  The look in his eyes and his tender embrace expresses loud and clear that he is truly in awe of new life.
Benedict and Joseph, the oldest and the youngest.  Benedict held Joseph the longest at the hospital.  He already has that innate desire to protect, to comfort, and to care for his youngest brother. Seeing Benedict grow and mature in this way is so beautiful!

Father and Sons...
On Father's Day, I shared a photo of Steve with the boys, along with this verse from scripture, on my Facebook page.  The verse has been on my heart each day since, as I continue to contemplate God's goodness and abundant blessings upon our family:

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


  1. Congratulations to you all and blessings from Spain ! (so much for me thinking it would be a little girl this time ! Welcome to Joseph (beautiful name ! we have gazillions of Jose's in Spain, in fact Father's day is on Saint Joseph here and it's national holiday) As we say here "good health to the parents to raise the child" (and to the siblings too naturally in your household !)

  2. You and Rose on the same day! Fantastic! It will be fun to see how the puppies and Joseph grow alongside each other for a while.
    I love that first meeting of the siblings, too. Those pictures of the boys are precious.
    Funny how those sibling pronunciation of names stick. We still call our Joseph "Jofuf" sometimes, and Benjamin will always be Bennamin. Whenever people would call Benjamin Ben, he would yell, "I'm not Ben! I'm Bennamin!"
    Congratulations again on your beautiful new little boy.

  3. I LOVE that you had another boy! I have 6 boys, too. My oldest is almost 14 and my "baby" is now 2. I never in a million years imagined I would be the mother of SIX boys, but now that I am, I wouldn't have it any other way. I can relate to so much that you write about your boys and your faith. Thank you for writing! Enjoy your newest blessing!

  4. Beautiful story. Beautiful baby. Beautiful family! Thanks be to God for His many blessings.

  5. Oh, Susan - I loved reading this birth story! I've told you before how very impressed I am with all your boys - they are so sweet and loving!!!!
    (BTW - I can't remember, did you & Steve know it was a boy all along?)

  6. So beautiful! I love the pictures of your boys with Joseph. Just so sweet.

  7. Congratulations on the birth of your newest beautiful son, Joseph (and puppies =)) What a beautiful birth story! Than you so much for sharing and enjoy sweet family time with your new bundle of joy!

  8. Brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful little blessing. My heart is so full just seeing how happy all of you are! God bless you!

  9. Sorry, getting caught up on my blog reading. Love this story! Can't believe you were delivering puppies while in labor! The pictures of your boys holding their new brother are so precious! Introducing my boys to each other for the first time was one of my most cherished moments as well.

  10. Susan, congratulations on the birth of another adorable son! I can't believe I missed this. I haven't been blogging as much lately, and I've almost stopped reading blogs altogether, because lately I just haven't had the time. But this morning I decided it was time to check in with some of the favorites I've been missing--and I realized you must have had your baby and I didn't even know if it was a boy or a girl. I was so happy to get caught up with your family.

    Your "Jophis" was born on my husband's birthday by the way!

    I love that Bible quote--so, so beautiful! And the picture of your husband with all of his sons is just priceless, as are each of the individual shots of the older boys holding their new brother.

    I am so happy for all of you. God bless!

  11. This makes me cry! You husband looks SO excited and you are just beautiful. Congratulations on your sweet new son! I'm so happy for you!


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