I have often thought, that if God hadn’t called me to motherhood and a farming life, He would have led me to work in obstetrics or pediatrics. So, for that reason, I think that writing a birthing story is very important for me, and a way to preserve a memory that is very dear to my heart. My sister-in-law started the tradition 14 years ago with a journal to try to document all the birthing stories of what is now 16 cousins. The journal is, of course, now lost in the shuffle of life, but writing continues to be therapeutic to me. I have somewhat pushed off writing this story for 9 days, because there is a finality to it and a closing of this chapter of my life.
5 days past my due date, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. with contractions. Although this wasn’t unusual within the last few weeks, I was pretty hopeful that this time, it was the real thing. I had taken 1000 milligrams of evening primrose oil before bedtime because I had read online it was a good way to induce labor so I had my sister-in-law walk across the street from where she works to pick some up at the local health food store. I was so ready to meet this baby!
I got out of bed and started tidying up the house for a few hours. At 6:00, I rested on the couch until the kids woke up for Sunday morning church. Joe asked me if I was sure it would be wise to go to church, and I assured him I would be fine. From 9:30-10:30, I had 4 or 5 contractions, but only one of them was when we were sitting while at church, so it was very tolerable. I continued having contractions as the kids attended Sunday school and we enjoyed our traditional Sunday lunch made by Joe’s mom and enjoyed by 20 people each week.
I had a few major contractions while there. One of them was while Joe was relating a story about customer service at a local store, and it was hilarious but very difficult to laugh at while having a contraction. One of Joe’s sister offered to watch some of our kids so I could go walk laps at the YMCA….I said I would way rather rest on the couch.
We went home and got Ava and Violet ready to play outside and I was helping Vince with his math homework. He was being unusually cooperative. When we finished, I laid down on the couch. Joe came into the living room a few minutes later and said that he was planning to take Liv with him and attend our church’s 2:00 service. I was kind of surprised that he was going to leave but I was so settled in for a nap that I didn’t react much and he left with Liv a few minutes later. He had given Vince instructions to help Ava and Violet when they came in from playing outside and that he should try to keep them quiet so I could rest.
I napped for a while but had the urge to pick up stuff around the house. Vince was being really bossy with Ava and Violet. At 3:30, Joe came home from church apologizing that his deacon duties took him a really long time after church had finished. He asked me what was the plan. I told him that he should take the kids to his parent’s house. He seemed surprised. I think it was because a pretty similar scenario had played out on my due date, and then by about this time my contractions had just stopped completely. So, we got the kids packed for an overnight and school the next morning. I was planning to get in the tub as soon as they left, but I packed for myself and then when Joe came home 30 minutes later, I finally got in the tub. He came to check on me after 20 minutes, but I told him that my contractions, while strong, were not that close together. He came back 10 minutes later and asked me how many contractions I had, and informed me that I was a poor time keeper. He went back downstairs and I labored a little while longer in the tub. All at once, I decided I definitely wanted to get out, and I remember then looking out the window to see that Joe had started the car for it to warm up. So, we were both on the same page and decided to head to the hospital. As we pulled on to the road, we both looked at the clock – 5:15. We arrived at the hospital parking lot at 5:30. Joe is very picky about where and how he parks. After deciding not to use the emergency parking lot, and then not very pleased about the positioning of the car in the other lot – I finally told him “Just park the car!” (which I regret saying now) and I got out and had a contraction and then started walking to the ER where we had to check in. I had a contraction while in the entryway, and Joe was just catching up to me with the bags I had packed. Somebody came out to ask me if I wanted a wheelchair and Joe waved him away. I began the check-in process by telling them that Dr. Lyon said he would come in just for me. Then, the lady decided Joe could do the rest of the checking in, and some male employee and I headed toward the elevator. I had a contraction just as I was about to get in the elevator and it was really long, so by the time I was ready to get in the elevator, Joe had caught up.
The employee on the women’s health floor checked me into my room. I changed into the gown and she checked me – I was dilated to a 6 or 7. I was thankful that I wasn’t a 3, but somewhat surprised that I wasn’t further as I felt I had certainly been transitioning. It was about 5:45 or 5:50. They hooked me up to some baby heartbeat monitors. I was standing on the side of the bed because I very much dislike being in bed while in labor. For our previous children, I have always faced Joe and leaned on him during contractions, but this time I was having back labor and really just wanted him to push on my lower back during each one. I remember having one contraction that seemed longer and thinking to myself that it was a very good one – I felt like I could feel my body opening. The next contraction, I was still standing by the side of the bed, and I reached down and could feel that my bag of water was slipping down into my hand. I informed the nurse and asked, “What do I do on the next contraction?”. She said, “Right now get on the bed on all fours.” So, I did and when I rested to a sitting position, my water bag burst on my foot. I remember asking her again, “What do I do on the next contraction?”. She checked, said I was pretty much fully dilated and just to breathe through it. The lady from the lab was trying to draw blood from my left arm as I was resting my arms on the front of the bed that was propped up. I was trying to wave her away and the nurse insisted that I allow her to draw blood, that I wouldn’t even feel it if she stuck me during a contraction. She got her blood at 6:08. The nurse said I should try as hard as I can, not to push with the next contraction. The doctor made his grand entrance into the room and began to take off his coat. I had a contraction, and it was impossible not to push, and I could feel baby’s head slide out. Joe couldn’t believe it, and asked if he should help, and a nurse said, “Go ahead and catch.” At that, the baby’s shoulders passed through and as the rest of its body slithered though, Joe caught our new baby. The doctor was just finishing putting on his gloves and congratulated Joe. The nurses said they had tears in their eyes and it was so strange for me because I couldn’t see as I was still on my hands and knees facing the other way. Joe asked me if I wanted to know boy or girl. I said “Yes!” and he told me our new baby was a boy! Joe and Dr. Lyon worked to clamp the umbilical cord, and then I was able to turn around and hold our new baby. He was crying and I was in complete shock that it had gone so fast. It was 6:10, only 20 or 25 minutes from when we had arrived in the room. Joe and I both laughed that perhaps we had cut it a little too close. Joe was standing with his hands in the air in front of him, perplexed and amazed and really needing to go wash them in the sink. The nurses said since that was so easy and simple, we should have at least one more child in the future and Joe and I both laughed and said we were too old.
The lady from the lab finally gave up on getting an IV in me and left. They allowed me to hold our new baby for a nice long time. I was really surprised to have a boy and just in awe of how quickly babies can arrive. I received an intramuscular shot of Pitocin just to stimulate my uterus to contract and prevent large clots. Joe took a lot of pictures and I just couldn’t get enough of looking at him to make sure this was really real.
It brings tears to my eyes to think I will never feel a baby move and kick inside me again. This fifth and final pregnancy was much harder for my body, but certainly just a small sacrifice for having a new baby to love. I am so very thankful God has allowed me to have children and to be a mom. It is my greatest calling and one that I am so very grateful for.