About 6 weeks ago, I sat down with the intent to update this blog. I started a draft that got sidelined and is now being re-worked into multiple posts to better share with you the crazy intense year that has been 2016!
When I started writing the post, I was 39 weeks and a few days pregnant. Which was the most pregnant I'd ever been in my life! All my children were born at either 39 weeks or 38 weeks.
In keeping with the pace of this year, this baby took his time - drawing things out with a certain amount of drama and anticipation. I would have expected nothing less. God has used pretty much every day of this year to teach me to rely wholly on Him, His timing, His control. I have a history of wrestling with God over control. This year, I may have fully surrendered on that front, as God has tested and retested and then tested yet again to see whether I really learned the lesson.
As I explained to my sister, Rachel, every day this year has unfurled slowly and deliberately, almost like a cartoon image of a page being turned oh - so - slowly by an unseen hand.
This pregnancy was no different. I couldn't rely or plan on anything for certain. I wasn't sure where we'd be when I delivered the baby...I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to have a home birth (this baby stayed breech up to close to the very end)...and then I went past my due date, which was a new experience for me, so it felt like I really might not ever HAVE a baby.
I have heard that the more pregnancies you have, the more accommodating your womb is - size-wise. My 4th child, Wyeth, was breech until the day before I went into labor. This little one was breech until about 38 weeks. In fact, my midwife manually turned the baby twice, Kyle and I did moxibustion and inversions, I had a prenatal massage to loosen up anything that might be tight, and I even manually turned the baby myself one night. Which, contrary to what you might have heard, is not painful. Or rather, my personal experience is that it's not painful when done by an experienced midwife...or myself.
In addition to the breech issue, I had several false starts with this baby. I would wake up with regular contractions in the middle of the night that just faded away. My sister-in-law, Melissa, was due pretty much the same time as me, and she also went a week over her due date. She delivered early early on a Thursday morning, and interestingly, we were both having contractions the same day. Hers just was the real thing, and I think mine were sympathy contractions!
Exactly a week later, on October 20th, I experienced my "real thing."
I had been praying and hoping that my labor would begin with my water breaking, because that's the way my labors began with Dorien and Wyeth and they were both pretty nice, short labors. It helps when that water breaks first. Also, I never "drop" like a lot of women. I carry my babies high, until that water breaks and then they plop down into the pelvic bones and engage. I can't tell you how many people commented on how high I was carrying.
As I mentioned in my previous post, a move to Chicago was in the works, and I was in a limbo state of packing, but not really packing in earnest, because things were still up in the air regarding the sale of our house. But the Wednesday night before my labor began, August, Dorien and I hit the library hard - boxing up row after row of books. We made such great progress, and I think in the back of my head I suspected it would be good to make that progress since I could have a baby very soon.
Sure enough, at 3:15 am Wednesday night, while sleeping soundly, I felt a sharp pain that woke me up. My water has broken before with a loud "POP" (Dorien's birth) and a silent gush that startled me awake (Wyeth), but never a sharp pang. I got up to go to the bathroom and it was like a gallon of water poured out. I am not exaggerating. I knew I had a lot of amniotic fluid in order for the baby to be flipping as easily as he was, and I was right. There was so much of it, I stood in the tub to catch it all. Then, I grabbed a towel and waddled down the hall to alert Kyle. It was the real thing!
I called my midwife, Mary, who asked if I was having contractions (no), and told me to call her in about 30 minutes with an update. In the interim, I called my best friend, Emily, and alerted her. She was going to be present during the birth, and had a bit of a drive to our house. I texted my friend, Holly, a midwife apprentice who's been at 4 out of my 5 births. I also called my parents so my Dad could come get Wyeth and Dorien. Brooklyn and August wanted to be there for the birth. Kyle turned on my Penguin Cafe Pandora station as our "mood music."
My contractions began around 3:45, and they were not bad. My friend Emily arrived, followed closely by my midwife. Mary set her stuff up and I relaxed between contractions, chatting with Emily and Kyle and the kids. Holly showed up around 5:40. The contractions were never more than 50 seconds and never incredibly intense. I stood up almost the whole time, just circling my hips and relaxing my body. Kyle and I were totally in sync, and it was a beautiful experience. I felt so connected to him. I also just felt surrounded by love - I had my husband, two of my dearest girlfriends present, my trusted midwife and two of my sweet children. It felt blissful.
I can honestly say that at no point did the contractions feel really intense. They were all pretty moderate. It was truthfully, a blend of pleasure/pain. I didn't mind them at all. And suddenly, around 5:40, I started feeling an urge to push, which seemed quick. My midwife checked me and I was more like 5cm - not fully dilated - which was disheartening and frustrating because I really was feeling that pushing urge! What was I supposed to do? And at the same time, the baby's heartrate dropped. They weren't sure whether there was cord compression or what...given the amount of flipping the baby had done, it could be anything. I think they had this mental picture of the baby being all tied up in the cord.
Mary and Holly had me get into a different position - hands and knees on my bed, face down on the bed, bum up in the air - basically to shift the baby out of my pelvis and hopefully remove pressure from whatever was being compressed. Mary had me hold that position for about 7 minutes, during a few more contractions, using her fingers to fully dilate me during the contractions. It sounds awful, and she kept apologizing, but it really wasn't bad. Since there was no baby head pressing down during the contractions, it wasn't painful. I just had to concentrate on fully relaxing my body - and I had a sense of peace that things were going to be fine. My past three deliveries, there has always been a drop in heartrate because my labors happen so quickly, the baby is rushed through the birth canal.
Pretty soon, Mary said I was fully dilated, and I could change positions. Good! Because I really had to pee! I raced to the bathroom, emptied my bladder and immediately had the urge to push. I think I made a sound that alerted everyone, because in 2 seconds, the bathroom was filled with people! Kyle standing by me, Mary kneeling in front of me, Holly crouching beside her, Emily against the wall snapping pics with Holly's phone, Brooklyn and August peering around the corner quietly. It was pretty funny seeing everyone crammed into such a tight space!
I stood up, over the toilet, and I remember registering the thought that I hoped this baby didn't fall into the toilet! Mary was taking care of that, though, as she draped a blue chux pad over the pot. I supported myself with one arm on the window ledge, one arm on the cabinet beside me and I focused on Kyle who was whispering encouragement to me. Meanwhile, in the space of that one half-push, Mary said, yep, we have a head. I could not have been more surprised! How was that possible? I tried to relax and not push the whole head out, but let it ease out. I scanned my body and felt ok, like I could rest for second. So I did. Then, I gave one big push, and on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 6:02 am, out slithered a little body! A quick glance told me that it was a boy! What do ya know?
He was big and healthy and squawking immediately. He was beautiful. Born exactly 2 hours and 45 minutes after my water broke. Not a bad way to deliver a baby.
We named him Wilder Eames.
The middle name is pronounced Aimes...not Ee, like the designers.
He weighed 9 lb, 8 oz. and was 21.5 inches long.
Feels like our family is complete. One beautiful daughter and four handsome sons.
I could not be more richly blessed.
Praise the Lord for such an overflow of blessings.