Guest Blogger: Please Welcome…My Mommy

Every since I accomplished the considerable task of putting my children’s birth stories to paper (okay, so there was no paper involved; bytes doesn’t sound as nice), my mother has been telling me that she should write mine up so I could post it here for your perusal. I think she was both impressed and astounded that tales of birth could garner so much attention; the wonder of the internet has never been more palpable than when the collective empathy of mothers all over the globe oozes from comments over length of transition, hapless husbands, or bumbling doctors.

 

Or, to put it plainly, the allure of entering into the conversation was far too great for her to resist.

 

It brought both a smile to my face and a tear to my eye when I read it; it was my favorite birthday present, not so much for the story itself, but because my mom’s voice is so precious to me, and I hear her loud and clear throughout the whole of it. I told her I might just have to make her a regular feature here at One Thing. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

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“Fair Lady’s” Entry – and Random Relevant Musings From Forty years ago.

 

Yikes! Like my mother-in-law said in practically every letter she wrote us, “Where does the time go?” Unfortunately, I never have figured that one out. It just “goes”, never to return. At first, it’s at a snail’s pace, and then, like Jenni recently penned, you’re in your little red wagon, helmet secure, and you’re coming up on the downside of the hill! May as well “yeehaw” all the way down!

 

But I digress… Jennifer Rose Koenig…are you ready?…was not a “planned” child. She was a “surprise”, coming along a mere 13 months after her brother, Matthew – the third child in our family of five siblings – two girls, three boys and, for those who are of a statistical proclivity: girl, boy, girl, boy, and (nine years later) boy. For a heretofore self-absorbed, totally-uninterested-in-children-and-certainly-not- infants, young woman, I basically was getting a crash course in mothering! Nothing in my young life had prepared me for this immersion process, not even occasional babysitting.

 

However, there must have been some nascent predilection for spooning wet cereal into slobbery mouths, wiping up green peas from under the chair cushions (a 3yr.old’s clever substitute for her mouth), and sand blasting dried poop out of my husband’s fancy belt buckle, to somehow turn my sentiments toward nurturing someone besides myself! I found, to my surprise, that I rather enjoyed the company of these uninhibited little beings; they were, after all, a captive audience for my unbridled tendency to throw dramatics into everyday life. And Jenni….well, once over the shock of being pregnant yet again, was welcomed as the latest in what we assumed would be the best and the brightest.

 

In 1968, we lived in Anchorage, Alaska where Jenni’s dad was working in oil exploration with Conoco. Mind you, this was the Frontier. My auntie kept addressing her letters to “my Eskimo pioneers” and just assumed her stamp was doing its job by getting them to our igloo okay. It is my theory that, in those years anyway, the doctors (esp. of the ob/gyn variety) who practiced in our 49th state had graduated at the bottom of their class and only came to Alaska because the citizens were desperate for doctors.

 

That, and/or they wanted to fish for gigantic salmon and fly their own float plane.

 

This is probably ridiculously false, BUT…my experiences with some of them made it seem reasonable. On the other hand, the nurses were excellent and as far as I’m concerned, could have birthed all those new citizens very handily all by themselves. And so it transpired that I was looking for a new ob/gyn when Jenni was in utero. I must have been rather clueless (must have?) because this time around, “my” doctor proved to be not only irritating and inept, but absent. I don’t know…maybe he was floating on his float plane. Whatever…his beeper was not on, and Jenni was delivered by a very cool Elmendorf Air Force Base doctor who was on call. I begged him to stick around, but alas, he apparently had a plane that needed flying too (but he deserved it!).

 

When the folks back home in “the lower 48” found out there was another little Koenig on the way (when they hadn’t even met the recent boy child yet), my mother, bless her heart, started making arrangements to fly into the wild blue yonder by herself to help her baby girl (since I had had the temerity to birth the other two without her). You have to understand that this was a big deal back then. Mom never went traveling without my Dad begging her to tag along with him on his many excursions…and certainly the whole idea of getting on a plane alone was positively heroic for her! I appreciate her even more in retrospect.

 

We “planned” (hahahahaha) for her to arrive …oh, two days before my due date (what optimism). A week later, and then two weeks later, Mom and I were staring at each other and wondering: “maybe this lump is a tumor”. Hubby and I went out for regular, bouncy trips up and down Alaskan back roads in our old VW van, but nothing could rattle Miss Jennifer’s poise. She would simply make her grand entrance when the time was most auspicious. Back home in Texas, my father, bless him, assured Mom she should stay “as long as you’re needed”.

 

One evening, Mom was creating something delectable from leftover pot roast and I went to take a shower. Something about warm water coursing down over tortured flesh (a primeval urge to “go with the flow”?) reminded my child within that maybe it was time she investigated the outside world. Whatever the impetus, I was overjoyed (well, almost) to finally be timing contractions. So content was I that I insisted we serve dinner before even divulging the earthshaking news to Mr.Koenig!

 

My mother almost tied herself into knots, staring at me like I might deliver right there at the dinner table, while nodding absently when my husband kept complimenting her on the stew. But finally, the “secret” was divulged, there were shouts of “Eureka” all about, and we were on our way to the hospital.

 

I mentioned the nurses earlier. They were all there at Anchorage Community Hospital to greet me, and exclaimed “Weren’t you just here?”. Well, yes, thirteen months ago, but how time flies! (to where we don’t know, as already expounded upon). It was nice to be remembered, but rather embarrassing. I have no gory labor and delivery stories. After an unfortunate experience with my first baby, involving some monstrous, hallucinogenic drug which caused me to lose all sense of appropriateness and ladylike composure, I was introduced to the concept of “natural childbirth” in Alaska. I did mention this was the Frontier, didn’t I? Yes. I do remember being handed a gas mask and being told if I needed it, to take a whiff. Who can concentrate on the dexterity needed for that maneuver when you’re in the middle of intense labor? Forget that. So, without even a thought as to how revolutionary I was being (at that time), I became one with the pioneer women of yore, and simply – gave birth.

 

Jennifer – sans the afore mentioned irritating and inept obstetrician – came into this world in the early evening hours (after a fine dinner – for her Daddy anyway) of August 27, 1968. She was just dandy – sweet and rosebud like, slowly unfolding like the veritable flower that she was (*sniff*). She fulfilled beautifully the great need I have for smelling the top of a newborn’s head and snuffling about in her neck, kissing little feet, etc. etc. and…etc. (you know what I mean). Meanwhile, I enjoyed my time in the hospital, being catered to and chit-chatting with the other moms in the “ward” (six beds, usually full – a prolific bunch, those Alaskans) – a well-earned vacation, even though there was no sandy beach or rhythmic waves. One takes what one has at hand.

 

“My” doctor never acknowledged that I was even in the hospital (which was, for crying out loud, on the second floor above his offices!). This marked The End of my forays into medical specialization; I henceforth got myself to an old country GP who efficiently delivered our fourth little Alaskan two years later.

 

Once home with darlin’ Jenni, I found myself in a maelstrom of activity that made it clear that we needed a real house, not a mobile home! I just now realized that I can’t remember where my mother slept all this time. Reactions from the kids to this even smaller-than-they new member ranged from Pam’s effusive “little mother” hormones kicking in (which have never abated), to Matthew’s 13-mo.old disbelief. Well do I remember my mom carrying our little bundle of joy over to him while he was sitting in his highchair enjoying his afternoon repast of milk. “Look Matthew, how do you like your new little sister?” she beamed. Master Matthew took one look, did his superb imitation of a vibrating concrete buster (teeth and fists clenched, eyes squenched shut) and threw his cup against the wall. Whether he howled in indignation, I don’t remember, but the point was well taken.

 

Her father and I always suspected something about our third child: she’s been here before. Not in the reincarnation-sense, but that she was just born with some innate handle on the foibles and general incongruity of life. She frequently had this particular look and all-knowing half smile that let you know that indeed, she had your number. She was always quietly weaving her way through the crowd, smiling and doing her private little dance of life.

 

One might have worried that she would be lost in that crowd – like for instance, her first grade teacher. But that all changed one day when Jenni won the bingo game and came to the front of the class to proudly call out the numbers. As her teacher told me later “I was so concerned. Jenni hardly spoke a word usually and she was so quiet when she did that I worried that no one would be able to hear her.” Not to worry! Jenni withdrew a number, studied it for a minute, looked out at the class, and literally bellowed: “B – 1”!!!!! Whereupon every child’s head went back, their hands gripped their desk tops, and their hair waved in the wind just like in the old hi-fi commercials. And Jenni just smiled and looked knowingly at her bemused teacher.

 

But that was first grade. In second grade, Mrs. Robinson was more attuned. On one of Jenni’s report cards, she had written “You’re a nut, Miss Koenig!” Besides being a nut, she was deemed “very interested” in the spiritual, so said her religion teacher. That fits. A nutty spiritual person. What’s not to love? Let me just wrap this up by quoting from a long-ago (1975) Christmas poem I sent to innocent, unsuspecting relatives and friends (I did that a lot). It actually is quite prophetic if I do say so myself:

 

(beside a cartoon of a girl arising from a pile of flowers, gripping a bloom in her teeth):

 

And then there’s Jenni, she seems so sweet and shy
So peaceful amid the chaos, you’d almost pass her by.
But we will not be fooled, for behind her Cheshire grin
An undiscovered Carol Burnett is lurking within.
She’s a loving individual…and full of fantasy
Perhaps in time, she’ll make her world
More peaceful in reality.

 

And we all said “Amen”.

2:05am…Bliss

Xavier Gem arrived 12:55 a.m. April 12th and is nursing like a champ.   Mr. Pushy apparently had other places to be so didn’t stop to chat.   One push and baby was here.

 

The little prince weighs 8lbs 2.5 oz and is 20 inches long.

 

So very tired; will write more later but wanted to let everyone know.

7:25pm…A Little Excitement

I’m dictating to my beloved because I’m no longer allowed to sit up.  My last attempt at such a radical maneuver resulted in my blood pressure plummeting and the world fading rapidly away. 

 

So I lay here like a slab of meat and wonder if this birthday will be the 12th instead of the 11th after all.

 

I’m sorry my humor has seemed to evaporate.  As Anne of Green Gables said, fainting is not the romantic experience that books lead you to believe.

 

Thank you again for your prayers.

 

2:16pm…True Confessions

Some people have expressed wonder that I am blogging while “in labor”. Can I just clarify that, at this moment…I would hardly classify this as ‘labor’? This? This I would classify as a verrrry slow day in a really uncomfortable hotel where people randomly come and impale you with various implements of torture.

 

Rest assured that when things get intense, I will probably go awol. I will also not be posting pictures of baby emerging, for anyone who might have been wondering. I’m not *that* much of a share-er!

 

I’m sure you have guessed that things are still creeping by. The pitocin started at 1 m./hr and has been bumped to 4ml/hr but my uterus is sulky. It is simply pouting. It doesn’t wanna do this again. I would ground it, but what it really needs is to get a haircut and get a job.

 

When the contractions come, they are strong, but I can’t say in all honesty that they are causing me undue pause. I don’t know what I am dilated to, because I have had no checks since the water-breakage, at which point I was at a whopping “2”. Baby’s heartrate remains strong and consistent, filling the room with the sound of its steady, reassuring thump. He is unperterbed, for which I am very grateful!

 

Some other confessions, as long as I’m being transparent:

 

  1. I put on makeup this morning. Yeah, that was silly, I know. But there was this suspicion that our pastor might drop by (he did) and I didn’t feel he was prepared for the harsh reality that I was born without eyebrows.
  2. This one is really embarassing. I don’t think I can actually confess it.

 

Okay, maybe I can.

 

No, no I can’t.

 

Okay, I will. I’m all about truth in blogging.

 

2. I…I…I think the hospital smells good.

 

I KNOW! I am certifiable. Maybe I need to get out more? I am obviously one sick puppy. But there it is.

 

I wish I had a way to download some pictures, but I forgot my camera USB cord. If I *could* post pictures, I would post one of a button on my little hospital TV tray that says, and I quote: “Vanity Release.”

 

Because if there is one thing the hospital requires, it is that you release your vanity. At every turn.

 

But I will hold onto my carefully-drawn eyebrows, by golly. They can take away my food and give me ice chips, but some things are just non-negotiable.

 

 

11:17am…YAWN

It is with great regret that I share that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IS HAPPENING. Cervix of steel strikes again. Where’s that C4 when you need it?

 

Actually, I think they’re going to start the liquid equivalent soon. Dr was just in and declared that he would start the pitocin and “wipe that smile off my face.”

 

He was standing on the other side of the room when he said that.

 

Otherwise we can’t be sure of what would have happened to the dear man, can we?

 

I got a little rest and feel pretty good…it’s just so dang QUIET in this hospital! They need to send some kids running up and down the hallways or something so I can feel more at home. Maybe scatter some legos and blocks randomly about for me to trip over.

 

Ah well, your comments boost my spirits NO END, my friends! It has been so much fun to read your guesses and encouragements. “Slime trail” indeed! It’s very yucky. And squelchy. I am glad not to be a snail (and not for the first time).

 

I just linked that post again! I wonder how much mileage I’ll get from it before I go Home to Glory?

 

FIRE IN THE HOLE!

And the pitocin begins.

 

If you’re just tuning in, please place your bets as far as weight goes, and don’t worry about duplicating! I’ll put any duplicate winners together and draw from that pool if need be.

 

To be continued…

 

7:45am…No Turning Back Now

We have a connection! Hooray! I’m sitting in my oh-so-comfortable (L.O.L) bed here in the land of Large Stabby Needles, all hooked up to the Machine That Goes Ping and cross-eyed from reams of paperwork (“Is there any chance you might be pregnant?” takes the prize as most hilarious question thus far).

 

Dr. R has been in to break my water, which was a singularly unpleasant experience. As he was fishing around with his harpoon, I honestly thought I might shoot out of my skin. I don’t think he was aware of his own tenuous hold on life as he knew it, as his position beside me would have been ideal had I given in to the almost overwhelming desire to launch him from the room by his genitals.

 

I resisted. I’m kindly that way.

 

At any rate, the water has left the building and we are awaiting contractions to begin in earnest. I thought we might have some fun and start a little poll of sorts. Let’s see who can guess the baby’s weight, shall we? Some of you have read my birth stories over the past few weeks, so you know my range (anywhere from 6lbs8oz to 8lbs11oz) and I thought it might be diverting to see who comes closest. In the interest of full disclosure, I offer this picture, taken just two weeks ago:

 

 

 

So what say you? Post your guess in the comments and I’ll send the winner a prize of some sort. I have no idea what. Maybe the baby’s umbilical cord stump. Okay, maybe not. I’ll find something fun! In the event that more than one person is right on the money, I’ll employ some highly scientific method of choosing the winner. So have at it! For now, I gotta figure out how to extricate myself from these wires so I can pee. More later!

5:16am…Sitting on a Cornflake

When one is hours away from giving birth to one’s dozenth child, all sorts of poignant and meaningful thoughts run through one’s head. Memories, hopes, dreams…and this:

 

I am the eggman
You are the eggman
I am the walrus

And while it is true that I am roughly the size of a walrus at this moment, I’m not entirely sure that John Lennon meant what is possibly his weirdest song to be a metaphor for pregnancy and birth. So why, oh my peeps, is it in my head??

 

Might have something to do with the fact that I’d like a whole bowl of cornflakes right about now.

 

But we know that sustenance is Evil And Dangerous to the woman about to birth, don’t we?

 

Should I eat something anyway?

 

But then I’d have to lie when they ask me upon admittance.

 

I’m a terrible liar.

 

So I’ll just starve instead. That’s okay, don’t mind me over here, starving.

 

Oh hey, My Beloved just walked in and asked me if I had eaten anything. Cuz he was going to, you know, eat with me if I hadn’t. And I very politely and calmly reminded him that NO I HAVEN’T EATEN BECAUSE I WAS TOLD NOT TO EAT ANYTHING BECAUSE I’M SUPPOSED TO BE PROPERLY STARVED IN ORDER TO BIRTH HIS CHILD.

 

He’s going to find it difficult to eat now, missing his head and all.

 

No, I’m kidding. I didn’t really bite his head off. That was called Making Fun At His Expense. Have I mentioned lately just how much I adore My Beloved? How sweet and kind and gentle and generous he is? How completely supportive of my dreams and encouraging to my weary heart he manages to be? All The Time?

 

Because, if I haven’t, I have been remiss. He really is all those things. He thanked me yesterday for giving him all these crazy, wild, amazing, beautiful, gifted, sweet, lovable people we call offspring. And I said you’re welcome. Even though we are both fully aware that we had very little, in reality, to do with their coming to our house to stay for a while. We know who the Real Author of That Business is.

 

We thank Him too. A lot.

 

And I’m thanking Him for all y’all as well, right now…everybody who’s wishing us well and praying for us and waiting to hear our news. I just can’t seem to say enough how tickled and blessed I am by your presence. I’m going to keep updating, as long as The Institution For Ridiculous Regulations Upon A Process That Is Entirely Normal 98% Of The Time allows me to bring in my bacteria-shedding laptop. Until then, Koo-Koo-Kitchoo!

Eleven and Counting…

Gabriel celebrated his first birthday, and two months later we discovered a new baby was around the corner for us. I was due in October, and after a brief deliberation during which we reviewed our options, we made the decision to re-enter The System and use the OB who had been on call when we had Gabriel, Dr. R.

 

Although our experience with him had been brief, after speaking with many other women in my area and gathering intel about the other three (3, count ’em, 3) OB’s from which we had to choose, we really felt that the Lord had been gracious in having Dr. R on call when we transferred. He definitely sounded like the most laid-back choice, and the one least given to unnecessary intervention (which, relative to our past, was still more than we were accustomed to, but an important factor nonetheless). We also knew he was a Christian, which is not a consideration for many, but for us was undeniably preferable.

 

So we made the appointment and met with him for a more extended visit, during which we found him to be pleasant and amenable, once again either withholding any negative opinions of our transfer situation, or honestly not finding it any of his business. We were grateful in either case, and made our final decision to put ourselves under his care.

 

My pregnancy was uneventful and the sonogram revealed that all was well and we were having our second boy in a row (was this even possible?). My due date was October 28th but, given my past record, I tried to mentally prepare myself for my second November baby instead.

 

Two weeks before my due date, we were visiting my best friend and she had recently been given a massaging chair pad, of which she was extolling the virtues. Given my creaking and rickety state at that point, I welcomed the chance to try it out and found it quite heavenly. It had all sorts of vibrating and moving parts, including a “shiatsu” option which would work up and down your spine like a masseuse’s hands.

 

It never occured to me that Baby might not share the same positive opinon of all the buzzing activity, but either it was that or sheer coincidence that made him decide to shift his position drastically within the next 24 hours. For the next few days I puzzled over the increase in heartburn and how large and hard and round his little bum was, until the aha! moment when I decided it was not a bum at all.

 

During my next OB appointment, a week before my due date, Dr. R was making his closing remarks when I expressed my opinion that the baby was breech. A look of puzzlement came over his face as he said that he was certain he had been head-down at the last check. He palpitated my abdomen and puzzled some more, but due to his lack of fingertip-x-ray-vision, as all my midwives had possessed, he finally resorted to the sonogram machine to be absolutely certain.

 

Sure enough, there was Baby, head up and happy as a lark.

 

As with Ruth, in the situation with Gabriel, we deliberated. Dr. R said I had a proven pelvis (thank you, thankyouverymuch), which meant a breech birth would more than likely be just fine, but he, as Ruth, was reluctant to proceed in that direction if there was a way to ensure a head-first birth. We discussed undergoing a version to turn him, and then immediately inducing to ensure that he did not flip around again before labor began.

 

If the version was not successful, Dr. R wanted to perform a c-section. I failed to see how that was less risky than a breech birth, but his level of familiarity with the former far exceeded his familiarity with the latter, not surprisingly.

 

I went home to talk it over with My Beloved.

 

After prayerful consideration, we decided to go with the version, but in the event that it was not successful we were in no way consenting to a section. We were optimistic, given our experience with Gabriel, that Baby would turn easily enough, although I was not toting the same compliment of excessive water this time around.

 

Two days later, in the early morning, we arrived at the hospital for the scheduled U-turn. Dr. R was nervous, which I found amusing for some reason. He had varied levels of success with versions, and all of them were, in his experience, pretty painful for the mother. He apologized in advance for this possibility, prayed with us, and greased my belly. Taking a deep breath, he reiterated that I should “do whatever I needed to do” in order to deal with the discomfort, and proceeded to mash and knead as necessary.

 

Exactly two, completely pain-free moments later, Baby was head-down. Dr. R stood looking rather nonplussed at this unexpected boon as I smiled and offered my opinion that my uterus was simply not likely, at post-ten babies, to protest any sort of manipulation. He laughed and had to agree that it was indeed a factor.

 

Later, the nurses said they had never seen him so gleeful that it had gone well. Apparently, he “was dreading having to talk us into a section”. Harrumph! He didn’t know the half of it.

 

By noon I was admitted “for real”, and the eviction induction was started. Dr. R took a very conservative stance on pitocin and thus began with the smallest dosage possible, for which I was grateful. I was starting out at 2 cm, and proceeded, as was my modus operandi, at one cm more per hour. Because versions were, in their opinions, notorious for being stressful to the baby, I was compelled to stay in the bed, strapped to the monitor, and thus ill-equipped to deal with the contractions as they got stronger. I opted for the epidural and was soon “enjoying” what was possibly the most boring day of my life.

 

There was nothing on TV (is there ever?). There was nothing left to discuss, and My Beloved and I had not thought to bring so much as a pack of cards. I was tired, but too excited to sleep, not that it would have been possible anyway with the constant interruptions of nurses and pinging machines. The hours crept past and I began to wish desperately that Dr. R was not so conservative with the pitocin. A small, carefully placed bit of C-4 upon my cervix might have been a welcome giddy-up to its mule-like behavior.

 

Dr. R appeared now and again, occasionally expressing wonder that all my assurances regarding the tedious natures of my previous labors had not been exaggerated. By 11pm I had to wonder if he was regretting his small-dose mentality as well. I was checked and found to be at about 9 cm, and I was getting desperate for sleep (I was also ravenous and dying of thirst, having had ice chips my only sustenance for the past fifteen hours, possibly the most ridiculous of all the ridiculous rules attached to our hospital’s policies).

 

At my request, the lights were dimmed, the TV extinguished, and I tried to get comfortable amidst the tangle of IV tubes and monitor belts extending from my body parts. I dozed for about an hour before I was awoken to the news that I was comletely dilated and could begin to push. Showtime!

 

I tried to wake up enough to get excited, but again the reality of a baby seemed remote and hard to grasp. I sat up as best I could and began to push, once again going by memory, since my lower half might as well have been on a beach in the tropics, for all I knew.

 

Memory served well, however, and soon baby was on his way. I was told that he had hair, which is always a novelty to me, having had mostly bald babies throughout the years. Dr. R’s desire to be at home in his own bed surfaced at this point (although I like to think he was being considerate for my own fatigue as well) when he offered to use a little suction to get Baby out with a bit more expediency. At this point the cascading interventions blurred into one big shrug of surrender and moments later (sporting a large hickey on his forehead from the plunger used) our fourth son was in our arms.

 

I honestly had not thought that there could ever be another child as unequivocably adorable as Gabriel had been at birth, but I found myself never happier to be proven wrong as I snuggled my little boy. I felt a pang of guilt at his more-than-usual “cheesy coating” and I knew that he would have happily stayed ensconced within for another week or more, although he was technically only “early” by five days.

 

He didn’t seem unduly concerned by his present situation, however, and I was undeniably delighted to fill a previously-vacant month with the birthday of this most precious of gifts.

 

Stats
Baby: Tobias (Toby)
Weight: 7lbs 14oz
Labor: 12 hours

In Which I Go To Hell And Come Back With An Angel

disclaimer: I did not want to write this birth story. Ever since it all occured, I have not dwelt much upon it. You might say I have had a touch of post-traumatic stress over it all. I wasn’t sure, when I began, if I would be able to finish it. But here it is, for what it’s worth…In the end I think it has been helpful to write it out. Thanks again for reading.

After Emma’s birth, in 2002, the oil company My Beloved was employed by joined forces with another megalithic oil company and became truly brobdingnagian. Amidst the reshuffling and new assignments, our family was transferred to another Oklahoma town about 70 miles away from my childhood home.

 

The move was complete in 2003, and shortly thereafter we discovered that we were expecting on Christmas Eve again (Caleb, our first boy, was also due on that famously fun date). This pleased me no end. I have always loved being due around the holidays; it just makes everything even more exciting, not to mention making the weeks go faster with so much to be done ahead of time!

 

I measured big throughout the pregnancy, which was new and novel for me. I have always measured small in every pregnancy by as much as 2 to 3 weeks, which I chalked up to having a long torso and lots of room for the baby to hide. This time, however, I was just plain big. Ruth felt it was a preponderance of water, and we had a sonogram to make sure nothing was amiss. It revealed a big healthy boy, and yes, lots of water, but nothing to be worried about.

 

Christmas came and went with the usual fanfare, and three days later I went into labor. It was a drizzly winter evening, and I was full of optimism. My Beloved and I walked at the mall and came home to call Ruth before things got too far advanced. I also called my sister (still living in our hometown) who came over to be of whatever assistance might be necessary. My mother and father stayed put for the time being, planning to come over as soon as baby had arrived.

 

My labor was proceeding at a good clip; the contractions were good and strong and when Ruth arrived she told me, to my absolute shock, that I was already at an 8cm. Transition already? I had hardly even broken a sweat! This was going to be a piece of cake! However, on the heels of her pronouncement of dilation came the words:

 

“That’s not a head down here.”

 

Sure enough, my baby boy, with so much water to play in and a uterus that was not as, shall we say, firm as it used to be, had decided he did not like the head-down position and was bobbing about like a cork, miles above the important-to-birthing-bits through which he needed to proceed.

 

Consternation reigned for the next few minutes as we deliberated what to do.

 

I could deliver him breech. It was not ideal, but it was certainly possible. Ruth had delivered plenty of breech babies, but with ours being so high there was the extra risk of a cord prolapse once the water broke, and this made us hesitant to proceed with such a plan. Ruth had one more idea up her sleeve.

 

With me lying on the bed, she turned the little corker externally until he was heading in the right direction (pun intended). Checking his heartrate to ensure that he had not found the process unduly stressful, she then had My Beloved put his hands firmly on the baby’s bum and press down as she broke my water. This, she felt, would guarantee that he would not only stay put, but greatly reduce the risk of a prolapse.

 

Procedure over, I rose and stood on a towel. And another towel. And another towel. And yet another towel. As the water continued to gush like Niagara Falls, I started to laugh. The baby’s middle name had been something of a question mark in my mind, but once again God’s sense of humor spoke to me and I stated that I knew the one I had been toying with was right: Noah. The kid was coming right along with a flood of his own.

 

We all supposed that when I stood up, contractions would kick back in full force and we would have a baby. My sister arrived in what we supposed was just the knick of time. However, as we stood and waited, nothing happened. Nothing. Not a twinge. Not a peep from my uterus. It just sat there, inert and quiet.

 

No matter. I would move around a bit and things would get going again, right? We were optimistic.

 

Once again I burned the midnight oil and waited for baby. Contractions came sporadically and lazily. I walked. I talked to my sister. I prayed. And I got really, really tired. Once again morning dawned. The children who had gone to bed with promises that a baby would be waiting when they awoke came in and were crestfallen to find me still in an inflated state.

 

My spirits were very. very. low.

 

It occured to me that when the weight of all the water had disappeared, my body had decided its job was done. It had no idea there was still a baby to be produced and was confused by our expectations. Who could blame it? It was going great guns and suddenly it was relieved of a large proportion of its burden.

 

I was 9 cm dilated and it was almost lunchtime. The contractions, when they came, were transition-painful but nowhere near often enough to bring on the pushing urge. I was, once again, exhausted. In spite of my resolve never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever infinity to push again without the pushing urge, Ruth was convinced that with a little urging my cervix would open up enough to let baby out. Reluctantly, we tried.

 

It was a nightmare. Every push was an assault of unprecidented proportions upon my guts. Forget the stabbing knife-sensations. This was a stabby knife with thousands of tinier knives attached to it, and they were all twisting simultaneously. Ruth encouraged, my sister and My Beloved supported, but no great ground was gained. No pushing urge took over.

 

We changed positions and tried again. And again. Each new position became more pretzel-like than before, and the pain never changed. Finally, I gasped out that I had to stop. I lay on the floor and sobbed…and sobbed some more. My mother called to see what was going on, and as my sister picked up she heard me in the background.

 

Suffice to say she had the scare of her life. My sister tried to relate what was happening before she required resusitation.

 

As I cried, I said I was Done. Finished. Caput. I wasn’t doing it any more. I was going to the hospital. I didn’t care anymore. I couldn’t do it. They could cut me open and take the kid out, but there was no way I was giving it one more go. I could no longer remember a time that I had not been in pain.

 

They tried to reason with me. Tried to tell me that I really didn’t mean it. That we could get-r-dun here at home, we just needed a little more time. I wasn’t having any of it. Suddenly I realized that the rational arguments would continue as long as I was hysterical.

 

So I stopped. I sat up and very calmly explained that I didn’t care what anyone else did, *I* was going to the hospital. I would drive myself if I had to. My Beloved got his keys.

 

Instantly Ruth packed her things to come with me. Later she said that, when a woman gets *that* look on her face, and *that* tone in her voice, she knows it’s over.

 

I dried my face and tried to look brave as I went past the children, but they knew things were Not Good. I reassured them that the baby was fine, and we would be back as soon as we could be, but I’m not sure I said it with any confidence. I was never so grateful for my sister, who was staying behind with them, as I was at that point. The oldest children were old enough to be alone with the rest, but leaving them in such a state would have been wrenching.

 

As soon as we left, my sister lept into action. She gathered the troops and they all prayed that things would go well. Then she did what she does best: cleaned and commanded. Giving everyone a job, they scrubbed and vacuumed and dusted and stayed generally distracted for as long as possible.

 

Meanwhile, we arrived at the hospital and were admitted. Obviously, coming into a hospital as a homebirth transfer is a tricky proposition. We had no idea what kind of mentality we would come up against. Would they be hostile? Accusatory? Would the OB lecture us on our “carelessness”? Ruth was a brick, staying by my side at all times and fielding every question about my history and the pregnancy and labor thus far.

 

For the most part, the nurses were kindly and supportive. The OB on call was Dr. R and, whatever his opinions, he kept them to himself, which was good enough for us. I lay in the bed and cried quietly, feeling utterly defeated. My request for an epidural was filled in short order, and I drifted off into blissful, pain-free sleep.

 

Just an hour later, after a dose of pitocin to convince my uterus that there was still work to be done, Dr. R returned and declared that I was fully dilated. I was propped up and pushed as I recalled pushing should feel like, although the epi was completely successful and I never felt a thing. All my experience up to that point, however, came in handy and I managed to push him out within the space of half an hour.

 

I honestly couldn’t believe I had a baby. I had pretty much forgotten there was a baby involved in the nightmare at all. How could something so sweet come from so much pain? Nevertheless, there he was, in my arms, completely healthy and as adorable as all get-out. I forgave him immediately for his part in the trauma.

 

It was Ruth’s opinion, as well as the OB’s, that my uterus would need pitocin from this point forth if I continued to have babies. It was just plain pooped, to their minds. I’m still not convinced this is the case, but the possibility of having to transfer again to the hospital should this be true has been enough to bring us to the conclusion that our homebirth days are over.

 

We canvassed the woulda-coulda-shoulda possibilities over the next few days, but always came back with a shrug to the Way It Was. To this day I’m not sure if anything would have been better had we made different decisions. At any rate, the opinion on the final product was unanimous:

 

Perfect.

 

Stats 

Baby: Gabriel

Weight: 8lbs 11oz

Labor: 21 hrs