Birth of The Blessing

I was awakened by a very painful contraction late one night two weeks ago. I pressed the Indiglo button on my watch. 12:30. “Was that a real contraction?” I wondered, “or did it seem so painful because I am so tired?” I had been having contractions for days and days that never quite turned into labor so I wasn’t about to get excited about this one.

I laid there in the dark waiting for the next contraction before I would decide whether I should get up or go back to sleep. I didn’t have to wait long. The next contraction came on strong and hard and I knew that this was probably the real deal. But I waited for one more, just to be sure. The third one did not disappoint.

Rolling out of bed I said to The Man, “I am having some good contractions. I’ll call you when it gets serious.” He grunted and rolled over knowing that he didn’t have much longer to sleep.

I decided to text my midwife and let her know we would be needing her in a few hours.  “Sorry to wake you, ” I wrote, “but I am pretty sure I am in the beginning of labor. Was 4cm this afternoon. Contrax are about 8 min apart and nice painful ones. Will call you when it gets interesting.” Then I sat on the couch and decided to knit. I figured that when I could no longer knit through the contractions, I’d wake up The Man and get serious.

I knit through four contractions.  The fifth one found me closing my eyes and moaning softly as I tried to relax. I set my knitting aside. Two more contractions like that and The Man was out of bed.

After checking on me, The Man went into the bathroom and started cleaning the bathtub. I heard the water running as he filled it and I started making my way to the bathroom, stopping twice to breathe through contractions. Then the shivers started. By the time I got to the bathroom (and, folks, my house is very small, it wasn’t a long walk), the contractions were right on top of each other. By the time I crawled into the blissfully hot water, there was no break between them.

As if in a dream, I heard The Man say something about calling the midwife and my mom. I gasped that he needed to wake the big kids, too. I was thinking that I couldn’t keep this up much longer, and assumed I still had hours to go – I had only just begun, after all! I heard The Man whispering a prayer, “Oh, God. Please slow it down.” And then out loud, “This is going really fast!”

“Don’t say that to me,” I panted, “It’s not helpful!”

And then the contractions stopped. I knew this meant I was complete. Pushing was next. I looked up and there were my four big kids, all crowded in the doorway, sleepy eyed and pajama clad. The Man sat on the toilet looking intense and confident.

“It’s almost time to push,” I said, as I relaxed in the water, waiting for the next phase to begin.

And then it began. I panted through the first pushing contraction, thinking somewhere in the back of my mind that I needed to wait for the midwife and for my mom. After the contraction subsided, sanity returned and I realized how silly this was. I have had two planned unassisted births! I can do this! So, with the next contraction I pushed.

Three pushes later and out she came! A teeny, tiny baby emerged from my body and I lifted her out of the water onto my chest. It was 3:01. She blinked in the light and serenely took it all in. She was beautiful in an unexpected way. I knew instantly that she had Down syndrome. I looked at The Man as he looked at her. He didn’t see it, yet. I looked back at her. This was not what I had pictured, not what I had expected. But I was okay with it. I knew it would be alright.

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After a short time, I felt it was time for the placenta to be birthed. The Dancing Queen cut the umbilical cord and The Bookworm wrapped the baby in a towel and took her in the living room. The Man helped me finish the process and got me out of the tub and into bed. There I had my new baby handed back to me and I looked at her again. She was so very tiny! My first six babies averaged 9 pounds, but this little squish was only 7lbs, 6oz!

My mom and the midwife both arrived about this time. Baby was checked out and given a clean bill of health. My mom put a movie on for the kids (who, at 4 am were very awake and excited) and I just stared at this tiny little girl in my arms.

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The first two days with her were lovely, I stayed in bed and we had skin-to-skin time round the clock. She had some trouble nursing, but as we worked on it, she improved with each feeding. The kids all adored her and lined up for their turn to hold her. The Man and I slowly adjusted to the idea of parenting a child with Down syndrome, focusing on the great blessing that she is and will be.

And so, my Encore Baby, The Blessing, entered this world, changing our lives far more than we ever expected. She is an amazing blessing and quite an exciting addition to our family.

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But the story continues. I’ll write about what happened next tomorrow.

Road Trip! A Wedding, A Reunion, A Birth, and A Family Portrait (the first since we were 8)

This weekend we bravely set out on a 5 1/2 drive with six children.

It was so fun!

We colored and played the ABC game and snacked and watched movies on the iPad and read books and I knitted a lot (of course).

Then we arrived. And we did all those things some more, only now with our cousins and aunts and uncles and friends.

Then there was news of the birth of a new cousin – a much prayed for VBAC and a healthy mama and new baby boy! The sister of the groom, no less, but she is a super mom and was still able to attend the wedding exactly 24 hours after the birth – with her two year old twins and four year old in tow! And you thought I was joking about the super mom part! WOW!

The outdoor wedding was beautiful and the bride was gorgeous and we had fun despite the sprinkling of rain that cooled us off in the heat of the day.

The reception was a great party with dancing and laughter and good food.

Being with my family is always, always, always a good time. I am so blessed to have been born into this wonderful tribe.

The fun didn’t stop just because the day was over. Sunday morning found us all in church and so blessed in an awesome service. Afterwards we headed back to the house for lunch and more visiting. There was swimming and food and olympics on the tv.

But The Man did have to work on Monday, so in the evening we said goodbye and headed north.

What a wonderful trip! And, look! We got a family photo taken!

 

And of course there was knitting. Lots and lots of knitting. Until I had to drive, that is. But I took this amazing yarn

Spunky Eclectic Portuguese Merino A Bug’s Life single ply lace weight (taken with the phone camera in the car before I cast on)

and turned it into this.

 

Pogona by Stephen West

Loving it so far and it is the perfect traveling knitting. I can’t wait to get it finished and to see the final color progression. What a fun project!

 

The Fraggle Turns One – A Retrospective On My Last Birth

This week marks one year since I gave birth to my last baby.

The Fraggle is amazing. God knew that I needed an easy baby this last time around. He blessed me with an eager nursing, long nap taking, not very needy, easy going baby. The Fraggle is responsible for many, many smiles and has caused so much joy in our home.

One Year. The Fraggle is one year. And she is lovely.

In our family we have a tradition. On your birthday, you hear your birth story. It always begins, “______ years ago today…” and what follows is the story of joyous birth. But when I start The Fraggle’s story, I can’t remember joy. I remember this.

One year ago this week, I was in the hospital. It was the last place I wanted or expected to be. Up until that week I had only known easy, peaceful, simple homebirths. But, as I laid in that hospital bed, strapped to monitors and totally exhausted, I was filled with fear, worry, homesickness, disappointment, and stress. With my blood pressure climbing daily and the worries about the baby’s heart and being separated from my five children for days and days, I was a total wreck. Her birth was great as far as hospital births go I suppose, but I wasn’t used to hospital births. Compared to my previous five birth experiences, it was horrible, terrible, awful. A memory that I’d rather not have. An experience not for reliving on special occassions.

But, then I look at this little girl, this amazing blessing, and I wonder if that really matters. Sure it began in turmoil, but the turmoil was temporary, and once she got the “all clear” from the cardiologist and my blood pressure came down, we began a year of bliss. I feel robbed of the blissful experience that I associate with birth, but better and more beautiful experiences followed – an entire year of them. Memories to cherish, documented with pictures, and remembered with joy.

The tears come to my eyes and the disappointment returns to me again as I relive the story of her birth, but The Fraggle is too young to understand what I whisper to her while I hold her tight. I am determined to have a better version to tell her when she can understand. I will find a way to tell the story from a better perspective, when the joys of the years of her life have dimmed the pain of her birth. Just as a mother forgets the pain of labor, so I hope to forget the pains of my heart.

How ungrateful am I to dwell on a painful moment instead of celebrating the weeks and months of bliss? No, I will not do so. I will find the good in her birth and remember that. And where is the good in her birth story? Here. The good is right here.

And today it is right here.

And between those two moments is an entire year of bliss.

Happy Birthday, Little Fraggle! I love you!

(For the full birth story click here)

A Little Announcement

It’s a Girl!!!

And this is where I expected to write an amazing birth story like unto my previous amazing birth stories… But, as they say, things don’t always go the way you plan. When my rising blood pressure landed me in the hospital early last week, I knew this was one of those times. And when the ultrasound revealed an abnormal thickening in certain areas of Baby’s heart, I realized that we were really off the map. After a five day hospital stay, a 27 hour labor induction, and still no final word on Baby’s heart, I really don’t have much to say here. I can’t process any of it until we get to the end of this ride.

Please pray for my little girlie. We go in for yet another echocardiogram tomorrow. Maybe we will get some of our questions answered and can start to move past this very difficult time. Also, my blood pressure has not gone down, yet, and we are still concerned about that as well.

Things don’t always go the way we plan.

But, we did get another beautiful baby girl out of the deal.