It’s the product of a crazy life that has delayed the birth story of our 5th baby. I suppose I’ll start from the very beginning — we were not expecting a 5th baby. As faithful NFPer’s for the 8 years of our marriage, we had welcomed 4 “timed” babies. And we were now in the phase of what is called “trying to abstain”. We use Marquette Method of Natural Family Planning, which is a method using the ClearBlue Fertility monitor. We were again in cycle 1 of the return to fertility protocol.
And, historically, this is the cycle I get pregnant on — not just because they’re tricky, but because we were ready to welcome another baby. I knew when that first period was coming because I can now feel it and predict it. It came, it was rough, and I started my tracking. On cycle day 15 my monitor gave me a PEAK! I was so impressed to get a perfectly timed peak (which has never happened to me on cycle 1) that even though it did not correlate with fertile signs, I went with it. (Clearly I was super impressed because I even found this picture in my camera roll!)
November 17th was the office Holiday party. It was so wonderfully planned by Dr Oland’s party planning alter-ego and it was our FIRST FREAKING DATE since Jackson was born. It was such a great evening and we came home and all the kids were asleep, which in parenting world is the best part of coming home at night when a there is a babysitter.
People seem to think I don’t know how babies are made because I have so many kids, which for real is the number one comment that genuinely pisses me off, but any how, I woke up the next morning on CD 28 and noticed those signs so clearly and Joe was very drawn to me like I was fertile — I just knew it. I told Joe, “I think we made a baby last night.” He looked at me and said matter of factly “I thought you said we were clear! (he’s right, I did)… well, either we did or we didn’t, I guess we will find out in two weeks.”
I told Tracy a week later over lunch that I thought I had gotten pregnant. I’m sure she thought “oh, FUCK”, but she was excited for me at the same time. I took a pregnancy test after work on Friday at 12 DPO and it was negative. By this time everyone in my office knows the story and they’re all just waiting with me.
I came to work Monday morning and was told immediately I needed to go pee on a stick. Even in the poor light of the bathroom after 2 minutes I could clearly see that faint line coming. I came out and put it on the counter by Tracy, and she glanced at it and saw. “Awww…” because she thought it was negative. I told her to look closer and watch it, so she looked again and saw the line and everyone cheered!
So, here we go again. I cried. There were so many mixed emotions. Of course I was excited! It’s such a miracle every single time, but I felt like I betrayed Joe because I didn’t cross check with fertile signs. I felt like I was jeopardizing my career and Tracy because it was still just us two midwives. (Thankfully we found Anna very soon after that). I felt like we were just finally about to come into a new phase of parenting and we’d be going back to baby. (Funny side story, I was literally moving the baby equipment out of garage to sell at the community garage sale in October and Joe said, “Maybe we should hold onto it for now. After all, I’m not fixed…yet…” << Famous last words….)
….And the pumping… and the breastfeeding.. And the anxiety over supply… and the lack of sleep and the being gone at night at the hospital and having a baby who doesn’t sleep. It was not something I wanted. My family (not Joe’s) was so very clear about their opinions on our family size already and the measures that “had to be taken to keep it from happening again” that I couldn’t even tell them at Christmas that I was 7 weeks. But I will be forever grateful that when I told Dr Oland, the first thing out of his mouth was an emphatic “CONGRATULATIONS!”. And when I told Britt and cried, the first thing she said was, “This is a BABY! This is a GOOD thing”. God is good. All the time. It was going to be beautiful. (And of course when I finally got over my fear of telling family they too were very excited.)
I was so glad to be in my home office with this pregnancy. I saw Britt and Tracy and we planned a hospital birth at our home hospital Banner Estrella. I went to Valley Perinatal for my OB scans due to my insurance and we decided we would NOT find out the sex of this baby until birth. Because we already had 2 boys and 2 girls I had no curiosity at all to find out before that magical moment of birth. I was suspicious after the anatomy scan because Joe said the sonographer used “he”, but we never tried to peak and that was my last ultrasound.
I gained 20 lbs before ½ way and I freaked out. So I started getting up at 4 am and worked out almost every day, got tighter control over my diet, and drank my water. I was having horrible, horrible SI pain that I went to physical therapy, but it wasn’t enough.Then I started seeing a chiropractor, Dr Renee Thompson, and my functional improvement was instant! I was hooked. I send everyone I can now in pregnancy to the chiropractor because it’s just that good.
I worked and caught other babies all the way up until the Friday before my due date, which was set for August 10th based on known conception dating. I usually go late and fully expected to. Britt was out of town for school and I was not about to stir things up before she got back. I went to work on Monday morning (August 12th) to close out charts and make some phone calls. Tracy checked me and I was only 1cm (say what? For someone who’s usually passively 3-4cm I just had to laugh. So the next few days were spent hanging out with my mom, who had JUST moved in her her new house in Victory 3 miles away from us, and waiting for a baby.
The morning of August 14th came. Britt was getting on a plane to head home and I was now 40 weeks and 4 days.
I drank some red raspberry leaf tea while I impulsively dumped the junk drawers in a frenzy of “I have to do this NOW because I can’t find a safety pin”. (warning signs).
I went to my office and I was 2-3 (I think?) and Tracy did a gentle sweep, then I went to the chiropractor’s office and got adjusted – she even adjusted my wrists in preparation for being on all fours. I went home and then my mom picked me up and we went to lunch at Wildflower, then we went to Kirklands. As we walked around Kirkland’s my stomach was feeling really uneasy and I was starting to have a hard time walking. I mostly felt like maybe I would need to use the bathroom urgently more than have a baby, so we decided to go home and get some ice cream from Culvers on the way. Joe told me to drink the “labor shake” and get this baby out. So when i got home i mixed a little castor oil into the ice cream, but reality was I was already contracting and It was awful tasting so I didn’t do the whole thing.
We went just before 3 pm to pick up the big kids from school and day care while my mom and grandparents came down to the house to be ready for us to leave. They started to be countable at about 10 minutes apart. I got home and went straight upstairs to the bathtub and got in.The big kids hung out with me for a little bit and Mia got in the tub with me. We floated and contractions were 3 minutes apart pretty regularly, but short. Just before 5 pm I updated Tracy and she suggested I come to the office to be checked. I definitely did not want to get out of the tub, but Joe was pretty insistent that we go. He did not want a repeat of Mia’s labor in which I almost had a baby in the car. My mom drove behind us and we got to the office just after 5pm. I was not able to walk between contractions anymore. I was 5cm. We decided to head to the hospital.
By the time we got there I’m starting to make noises. We got into a triage room while my labor room was being cleaned. I was going into one of the rooms with the freestanding labor tubs. Now I’m needing some support. Joe was rubbing my back while I leaned over the bed, then my body was telling me to get on hands and knees on the floor. Britt got there and all I remember was her kissing the top of my head. Anna got there sometime too.
When the room was ready I got on my knees backwards in a wheelchair and Tracy pushed me down the hallway. I went straight to the bathroom and labored on the toilet while I got my IV and then got in the big labor tub. I had this vision that I would keep soaking in the tub and right at the end that I would get out and birth on the floor in hands and knees. *spoiler alert: it didn’t happen that way*. The tub takes a long time to fill for one, but the water felt amazing on my back as Anna just held it there. Every contraction my body told me to stand up, and I gripped the sides of the tub for dear life. Tracy rubbed some peppermint oil on my back and that hot/cold sensation with the water was amazing. I did some squats in between and every time a contraction came I stood up.
After awhile (I had no idea how long at the time) I felt my body change. Tracy was going to check on another laboring mama and with that next contraction I yelled “Tracy, COME BACK!” My voice changed and the pain and pressure changed, but it wasn’t the feelings I had had before of pressure and pushing. I was surprised my water hadn’t broken.
I felt like I had to be complete, but why wasn’t the baby coming? I looked at the clock and it was around 7:00 or 7:15pm. Joe and my mom were sitting right in front of me watching and waiting and worrying. Joe had been encouraging me to get out and let Tracy break my water. In previous labors, when my water breaks a baby comes within an hour. I looked up and said “let’s break the bag”. I was mentally starting to fatigue and feel like I couldn’t keep going unmedicated. My contractions were right on top of each other and I was hardly getting any breaks in between.
It was SO HARD to get out of that tub. But I climbed into the bed and immediately got stuck on my left side with a contraction. I was curled up in the fetal position holding on the side rail for dear life. I even told Britt who was right at my side, “I’m scared”. It was the ONLY time during the whole of labor that I experienced fear. Tracy checked me – I was complete. She broke the bag of waters and I immediately turned back to my side with my knees together and my body started pushing. Tracy barely had time to change her gloves because within that next contraction there was a baby coming, and then crowning, and another urge there was a baby coming out and that immediate relief of a baby being handed to me as I rolled back over to my back to hold my baby to my chest. Joe wasn’t expecting it and he had looked back up at me so he almost missed it! (he was still thinking it would be an hour).
IT’S A BOY!! HE’S HERE and we love him so stinking much! All that fear, and doubt, and worry of having another baby was replaced instantly by love and he turned into the “bonus baby”. We felt he was a boy all along. We didn’t even have a solid name at the the time because I wasn’t going to argue about a girl name we wouldn’t use. (It was Aubrey Claire, by the way)He had the darkest hair of any of our babies. He stayed on my chest and we enjoyed our golden hour. I think. I have no idea how long before he was weighed and measured. He was 8#5.6 ounces and born at 1945. We snuggled and nursed while Anna fed me grapes and cheese.
Joe had wanted to name him Nathaniel from the very beginning and was like “NOPE, NO WAY. TOO LONG.” Well, God has a funny way of putting things on your heart. Nathan, or Nathaniel, means ‘Gift from God’. And the second I knew that I listened to that message and said, “OK”. His middle name, Gabriel, means “God is my strength” and is the archangel who appeared to Mary foretelling the birth of Jesus. I looked at Joe and said he’s “Nathan Gabriel”. Joe said OK, and it was settled.
Lincoln was PISSED that Joe came home to get them and wouldn’t tell them if the baby was a boy or a girl. Lincoln did NOT like waiting. However, he also listens very well and heard Joe say “he”, so he knew coming to meet him that he had gotten another brother. There is nothing sweeter than introducing siblings to a new baby.
And that, my friends, is the long-winded story of our 5th baby’s birth. I was surrounded by my family and my amazing team of midwives. It was beautiful.