How He Came

A caveat: I record my birth stories mainly for my own memory (because I never think I’ll forget, but I do) and also for people out there who just enjoy birth stories. (I do!) So, it’s long and it’s probably more detailed than it needs to be, but hey, now you’ve been warned ūüôā

I had very high hopes for Milo’s birth. Freya’s pregnancy and delivery were rough (you can read her birth story here), but this pregnancy had been so different. I started the pregnancy 35 lbs lighter and had eaten well and exercised right till the end. My blood pressure had not been an issue, my blood sugars were beautiful. I passed all of my geriatric mom hurdles with flying colors and felt like quite the star patient of my new midwife office (my beloved Barbara retired a couple months after Freya was born).

That is, until my 38 week appointment. My blood pressure was only a little bit high, but high enough that they ordered bloodwork to check for preeclampsia (nope) and told me to keep an eye on my BP at home. I was told to call if it got higher than 145/95 (either top or bottom number reaching those thresholds). At home, it behaved nicely for the next couple days.

Two days later at a routine non-stress test to monitor baby’s heart rate and movement, my BP was 140/86. She rechecked me a few minutes later and the systolic was 142. Both were below my threshold, so I wasn’t worried, but I could tell the nurse was. She consulted the doctor and then delivered the news I was hoping not to hear this time: I needed to be induced for high blood pressure. Again. Despite all my healthy eating and exercising. I wasn’t going to get to labor naturally at home in my bath tub and get to the hospital just in time like the good old days.

I shed a few tears at the sudden change of plans and at the realization that I wasn’t going to get to pack my own hospital bag or kiss my babies goodbye before embarking on this ordeal. Then I rallied, called Trevor, and drove myself to the other side of the hospital to check myself into labor and delivery.

Once I was settled in my air-conditioned room with lovely nurses chatting with me, I began to remember some of the benefits of an induction. No parenting between contractions, no playing the when-is-it-time-to-go-in game (which always happens awkwardly in the middle of the night!). Just a comfortable room with a TV and some extended date time with Trevor.

I was swabbed for COVID (negative!), which was not as terrible as I had feared, although the swab was certainly long enough to reach right into my brain! I was pleasantly distracted from getting my IV inserted by the nurse on my left by having to list all my children’s birth dates for the nurse on my right. I breathed a sigh of relief once all that was done, and when Trevor arrived a couple hours later with Chick-fil-A, I felt excited to get started on having a baby.

My midwife (Kerith was my midwife for that first afternoon, isn’t that a beautiful name?!) suggested skipping the first medication I had had with Freya’s induction (cervadil) since I was already very slightly dilated, and starting with a stronger oral med (cytotec). I remarked happily (but mostly kiddingly) to Trevor that that should mean a 12-hour-shorter labor!

I felt mild contractions from the cytotec, but I was still mostly able to sleep through that first night, and when I woke up I had progressed from 1 to 2 cm. We started pitocin that morning at around 10. I was allowed to eat breakfast since things weren’t super far along yet. (And since I had told every nurse and midwife since we arrived on Wednesday afternoon not to expect a baby before Friday based on my previous labors!)

That day was mostly spent passing the time in between very noticeable but manageable contractions. We watched some TV, played on our phones, chatted. I even crocheted a little. Around 3 we video chatted with the kids, and I was still able to fake smile through contractions well enough to fool all but the most observant. We thought maybe we’d chat again later that evening.

I skipped lunch in favor of some snacks, but by dinner time I was hungry and still only 3 cm as of my most recent check, so they let me eat a proper meal.

After dinner I settled into some hard, strong, regular contractions that felt like they were really doing something. There was no way I was going to have that second video call with the kids. I put on some music and got into my zone for an hour or two. Trevor and I both sensed that things were getting close, but then…

At 7pm, the shifts changed. A new midwife (Pat) and the nurse team from the previous night (Lisa and Taylor) came in in a flurry of activity and introduced themselves . We picked up that there were several other moms close to delivering (including two sets of twin moms!) and something in me seemed to switch off. It wasn’t my turn yet.

My contractions spaced out a bit and became less intense. For a while I didn’t mind the break. Trevor took a nap in my bed while I labored in a chair. But by the time midnight rolled around and nothing much was happening, I was frustrated and ready to make some progress again.

Pat the midwife checked me, and I was 7 cm. Those hard contractions had been doing something after all! But at this point, my body wasn’t responding as well to the pitocin any more. We both remembered from Freya’s labor that the pitocin receptors get used up after too many hours of pitocin and they need to be flushed in order for the body to respond properly again. (I was skeptical of this last time, but apparently it is a real thing!) The midwife suggested switching it off completely at 1 am and switching it back on at 2 to have a baby.

At this point, although my contractions were weak, they felt like transition contractions, like it was *almost* go time. I agreed to the switch-off plan, but secretly thought my labor might just keep ticking along. It didn’t! With the pitocin off, I had two or three more weak contractions, and then absolutely nothing.

I’m not quite sure why, but this made me feel panicked. Like, that the baby might be trying to be born, but we had just switched off the vehicle that could make it happen. It was so strange to feel so close to giving birth and then suddenly be not at all in labor. We called Pat back into the room, and she listened to my concerns and hooked me back up to the monitor.

She reassured me that baby was fine, and we restarted pitocin at a little after 2am as planned.

They set me at a low dose, so although the contractions again felt *almost* like pushing contractions, they were sometimes ten or more minutes apart, intense but not quite strong enough to push with. It was a strange part of labor to be stuck at. With every contraction, she asked if I felt the urge to push. “I don’t know. Sort of?”

We also saw during this time that baby’s heart rate was dropping during contractions, which I don’t remember ever happening with my previous births (although for most of them I wasn’t hooked up to continuous monitoring.) It scared me, and I remember thinking (wishing, maybe?) that I might at any moment be whisked away for a c-section. I felt that my labor was never going to end, and at the same time, my old familiar fear of pushing haunted me.

Finally, at around 4, Pat suggested breaking my water. She really thought that would progress things quickly and I’d have my baby in no time. I think she was more nervous about the heart decelerations than she let on, and I am thankful in hindsight for her good poker face.

This was when things got exciting. I was lying on my side in my (state of the art, fancy, convertible, just-for-giving-birth-in) bed when she broke my water, which was the position I fully expected to give birth in. This was at 4:41 am.

On my very next contraction, I felt the familiar urge to push that had eluded me for so long. Suddenly Pat sprang into action, frantically instructing the nurses to remove the bottom part of the bed and raise the whole bed up, so she could deliver the baby without bending down (bad back, apparently). Just moments later on the second contraction, I was pushing and there was no stopping me.

Some of the events here I am only aware of because Trevor told me afterwards, but we have now pieced together enough of Milo’s actual birth to perform a very entertaining reenactment using our living room chair with the ottoman playing the part of the removable piece of the delivery bed.

I was lying on the crack of the removable piece when Pat ordered it to be dropped out from under me, so I scrambled (while giving birth, remember!) to scooch myself backwards onto the part of the bed that was staying put, while holding onto the arm supports for dear life. Then Pat told the nurses to raise the foot supports and get my legs up. I have never liked this position and vehemently told them no. The nurse on my left listened to me and stopped, but the one on my right kept trying to get my leg up.

Meanwhile, baby! Pat was desperately trying to encourage me to slow down and not push so hard, but I saw my window of escape and I was not to be reasoned with. I hated the pushing, but I knew it meant the end and my baby.

Milo came flying into the world on a moving table, caught (Trevor says rather precariously, midflight) by a very surprised midwife who apparently didn’t really expect breaking my water to work quite so quickly. He arrived at 4:53 AM, 12 minutes after my water was broken and exactly 12 hours to the minute later than the time Freya was born, just as I had predicted.

There was an immediate chorus of “it’s a boy!” I laughed and cried and thanked Jesus aloud and possibly even quoted some Scripture. Although we had both really felt strongly that he might be a boy, hearing those words still came as such a complete shock. Trevor was very quiet and serious for a while after he was born (I discovered later that this mainly because he had just watched them nearly drop first me and then Milo on the floor, and maybe only a little bit because we had actually had a boy this time.) Meanwhile I was raised as high as the bed would go to receive the couple of stitches I needed. I’m sure I was about four feet off the ground. I do believe we saw this magical bed perform just about every function in its repertoire!

Despite a rather frantic few moments at the end, I truly loved the team that brought Milo into the world. In the aftermath of his birth, the room was aglow with warm laughter and chatting and excitement. A nurse from a previous shift even stopped by to show me the prediction she had jotted down on a napkin the day before: “male”!

He latched on well right away, and we had a long sweet cuddle before they borrowed him to clean and weigh him. I know it didn’t feel it at the time (maybe it never does?) but I look back on his birth already with such fondness. It wasn’t the birth I thought I wanted, but it was just the right story for him.

For This Child I Prayed

“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him.”

1 Samuel 1:27 ESV

Friends, if you have been reading here for a while, you will understand the gravity of what I am about to say:

We had a BOY!

It is with joy and a little bit of awe that I introduce to you…

Milo Walter Young

Born 7/3/20 at 4:53 am,

weighing 6 lbs 13 oz.

I want to be very clear here that we have never been “trying for the boy”. We have boys, and they are wonderful! And we have always been overjoyed to welcome each of our girls. Like, no disappointment EVER!

But around the time we found out Freya was a girl, although I was so excited for her, I did have a sense that, at my age, I might never get to experience having a baby boy (which would have been fine!)

But in that moment (and quite a few after it), I lifted up an uncharacteristically specific prayer to God, that if there were to be any more babies, I would really love a boy.

When Milo was placed on my chest, I wept in praise of a God who not only faithfully meets my every need, but even extravagantly hears and answers prayers from the deep (and perhaps frivolous!) desires of my heart. Pippa told me after he was born that she was adding this to her list of “God is real” moments. He certainly is!

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

Psalm 16:6 ESV

Baby Fever

As I type this we are two days from entering the “green phase” of finding our new post-pandemic normal. We have cautiously begun having small gatherings, and soon we will be able to gather for church and other events together. It’s been a weird time, these three months, but there have been many unexpected blessings. Time at home without appointments and distractions from family life has actually been lovely, especially since we finished school a couple weeks ago. While I have missed seeing the people I love face to face (so much!), I can’t say I have missed the rigorous pace of therapies and appointments that we usually have to keep.

Can you spot my incredibly talented sister Chelsea in my row of blondies?

In the midst of these strange times, we welcomed a new niece and cousin into our family! A little over a week past her due date (which is not nearly as tardy and stubborn as her mama was!), Brooke May made her grand debut. We are all so smitten.

*****

Hello, Jodi from mid July here! The above was a draft from June that never got finished. I will publish it for the sake of continuity, but stay tuned for more big news soon!

Youngs in Quarantine

Apparently, Newton invented calculus while under quarantine. Shakespeare wrote King Lear. Painters painted and writers wrote very famous things. I think my legacy from this plague of ours shall be that I kept 12 (and a half!) children alive and fed while THEY did some pretty cool things with all their extra free time. As for me, I’m kind of just getting through the day most of the time!

Coraline just finished reading The Lord of the Rings. The whole trilogy. I realize reading a classic is not quite the same as writing one, but she is only eight. When I attempted to slog through it in high school I only made it halfway through the second book!

Bea has adopted a sour dough starter and taken up a new baking hobby with great zeal. We are all very thankful beneficiaries!

Ro has been asking me nearly every day when she’s finished her school work, for as long as I can remember, “Mom, can I type?”. I almost always say yes, though I never really knew quite what she was up to. It turns out that right under my nose she has written some 162 pages of a fantasy novel! She hasn’t let me read it yet (even though I gave birth to her), but my mom has read it and seems very impressed. I’ll let you know when it goes to print ūüėČ

And of course, there has been So. Much. Crocheting! I’ve started checking before they start a new project to make sure they have a home in mind for it that isn’t mine, but we are getting overrun here.

A dinosaur I don’t remember the name of, by Niko.
A little poof chair (with a little person inside!) by Juniper.
Doll by Bea.
White Stallion by Juniper. Yes, it’s really crocheted.
Dragon by Romilly

Pippa especially has been using her crochet skills to try to bless others (for which I and my limited toy storage space thank her!). I especially love this little lady for a nurse friend of ours who is on the frontlines working with COVID patients.

The boys are continuing to do well at home. We are surviving “distance learning” and very happy to have them here with us. They are working on new skills, too.

Lewis completed this puzzle with very little help!
Everyone learning the Macarena at our wedding line dance themed dance party ūüôā

And there! Now I’ve written a blog post, so I’m not being completely unproductive after all ūüôā

Joy and peace to you in these uncertain times!

Babies, and COVID, and Praising God!

It’s been almost a year since I told you all I would start blogging more regularly. Man makes plans, and God laughs! It has been a whirlwind of a year, and I have started several posts and abandoned them in the busy-ness of life and in circumstances that change faster than I can blog about them.

But now, it doesn’t make sense to blog about anything other than THE SITUATION AT HAND: this strange thing that has affected every corner of the world and is changing every aspect of how we do life.

But first, some happy updates. I began a post back in November to tell you that my baby sister, the one who had just gotten married, is expecting her first baby! Before I even had a chance to finish that post, though, I discovered that we are also expecting again (and you know how that always makes the blog go quiet for a while!)

I am 26 1/2 weeks pregnant as I type this, and I am still in awe that I should be given this honor and privilege once again at my age. To get to share it with my sister is a joy I could never have dreamed of.

This has been my healthiest pregnancy since my 20s, thanks in large part to the eating plan I had just begun when I posted last April, the Trim Healthy Mama Plan. I am quite evangelical about it, but that is a topic for another post if people want to hear more. We also began running as a family (not usually in a huge horde, just a couple at a time!) last August using the Couch 2 5K program. We all ran our first 5K in November (I may have also told you about that in THE POST THAT NEVER WAS), and I am proud to say I am still running 5k at least once a week even at 6 months pregnant. But maybe not for much longer… the weather’s rapidly warming up these days! After Freya’s slightly scary pregnancy, I knew I needed to make changes for the sake of all these little people I am responsible for. The Lord has been so kind in this area, and I am thankful that my blood pressure, cholesterols, and weight are all in healthy ranges now.

Now, this pandemic. We are all safe and well! I do wonder if there may come a time when this thing affects us much more profoundly than it has so far, but it does feel pretty profound already.

March 13th was the day everything stopped. The boys have now been home from school for almost 4 weeks. Delia has not had her ABA therapy in that time. There have been no church, no AWANA, no trips to Pop-pop’s house. No visits with friends, no adoption support group. All of my usual chances to catch my breath were stripped away in an instant. For the first two weeks, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I was impatient with the kids, and every little thing made me cry (or at least feel like crying). The thought of carrying on like this for WHO KNOWS HOW LONG felt overwhelming… impossible even!

By God’s grace, things have gotten better! Instead of dwelling in the hard of this (because, as I have said through tears dozens of times to my mom and Trevor, “Everything is fine! Nothing is wrong!”), I want to share some wonderful praises:

  • Did I mention we are all healthy? It is so easy to get caught up in all that we have lost in this ordeal. It *feels* like a loss of freedom. But I am daily more aware of how much more others have lost. This thing is frightening. People are dying. I am thankful for those going to work every day while we are free to stay home and stay safe.
  • Our needs are completely met. Trevor is still working. Also, because my mom works at a grocery store, we have been able to get all of our essentials despite food limits which have been challenging to other families our size (or, you know, near our size!)
  • The boys are doing SO WELL at home!. I mean, like, I-might-just-homeschool-them-next-year well. We had an initial adjustment period of about a week as we learned to all be home together every day, but since then, I have enjoyed Lewis and Teddy more than I have in so long. They have relaxed back into our family. They smile at us more, give hugs more freely, even share better than they did when they were at school every day. We are doing a bit of school work after lunch most days and they love it! (Unlike homework time, which was often rather a struggle, even though it was exactly the same worksheets we’re doing now!) On Monday we begin official mandatory distance learning, which I think will be harder. You can pray for that, including for this die-hard homeschool mama’s attitude, which is not currently awesome about the whole thing.

I hope this update finds you all safe and well, and clinging to the One who is not surprised by any of it. I know my good days are the ones when I manage to remember that.

I will really try to be back soon this time. Really, really!

Finding Joy

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know that this has been a rather intense… well, DECADE for our family. ¬† We have added a new child every single year since 2011, and even before that (as strangers would tell me almost daily) I had my hands full. ¬†There was a good bit of thriving, but on the whole there was a lot of survival mode going on.

A few things have shifted recently. ¬†I now have two teenaged daughters who can ¬†stay home and even help with babysitting so that we don’t ALL have to go to ALL THE THINGS. ¬† Also, (can you believe?) Teddy has been home almost two years, and there is no new adoption in the pipeline. ¬†I don’t think I realized how time- and mental-energy-consuming all the adoption processes were until we emerged from them!

Freya’s birth also knocked the wind out of me a bit. ¬†I am pleased to say (thanks in part to an herbal supplement called ¬†Ivy’s Mukta Vati) that my blood pressure is well under control now, and I am finally off my meds for that.

Our new addition for 2019 will be neither a baby nor an adopted child, but my mom! We are so excited to welcome her into our (new!) home this summer. ¬†She has long wanted to be able to help me more than she currently can living a half hour away, and I have long needed the help. ¬†We ¬†also really like each other, so it’s win-win!. Of course, ¬†we realize there will be hard things about sharing space (even a lot of it!), but we are prepared to face them and excited for this to be a positive change for all of us.

It feels like we have now entered a period of stabilization. ¬†I’ve been addressing things that had fallen off the radar over the past couple years (Delia finally had a sedated dental exam after years of not cooperating with the dentist, and guess what? ¬†Not one cavity!). I’m even beginning to remember things I used to do just for fun. ¬†I’ve found some new ones, too!

Here are a few things I’ve been doing lately that make me smile:

1. Crocheting.  I had never really stopped doing it, but the projects had gotten progressively smaller and rarer.  In February and March, the kids and I participated in a mystery crochet-along to make these beautiful dolls.  Just because!

I’ve also embarked on a year long crocheting challenge to make each of the kids a birthday gift that they draw for me. ¬†They’ve drawn me some doozies, but it’s been so fun!

 

2. Photobooking. ¬†I discovered Shutterfly right around the time that I accepted the fact I would never be a real scrapbooker. ¬†I have always made a first year book this way for each of the babies/kids, but recently I’ve gotten more ambitious with this hobby. ¬†I’ve found ways to combine deals to make the books more affordable, and I’ve begun going back into the archives of our photos to make books of all of our many memories. ¬†I am pleased to say, after 19 years of marriage, that I finally have a wedding album. ¬†Trevor even got a baby book of himself for his 40th birthday!

3. My sister’s wedding. ¬†The big girls and I had such fun planning my sister’s surprise shower. ¬†Her bridesmaids were wonderful and it was a joy to get together with them to plan and conspire. ¬†The big day is in June, which means, next on my agenda: the speech!

 

 

4. Reading the Bible. ¬†I joined some ladies from church way back in September in a school-year-long journey through the whole Bible. ¬†The pace is intense (about six chapters a day with Sundays off and occasional catch-up days), but it’s been so good that I’m already excited to do it again next year. ¬†It never ceases to amaze me how you can read the Bible your whole life and always find something new.

5. Reading in general. I’ve gotten back into the habit of reading a tiny bit most nights just before going to sleep. ¬†It isn’t much, but over the course of six months or so I managed to get through the whole Anne of Green Gables series for the first time. ¬†I felt like they were written just for me, and yet I somehow never discovered them until my forties! ¬†Trevor is reading them now that I’m finished. ¬†I catch him reading them in bed and alternately giggling and tearing up. ¬†I think we’re both getting sappier in our old age!

6. This baby!  Oh, what a joy our sweet Freya Poppy is to us each day.  She is full of life and smiles and personality.  Nine months old already!

I’m dabbling in some other new things, too. ¬†I’m just sticking my little toe in the water of some long-needed health changes, and I plan to take up blogging, too, so watch this space!

Freya’s Birth Story

Our sweet newbie turned three months old this week.  Already!

It has taken me a while to feel ready to write down her birth story, because it was really a rather stressful birth. ¬†Not traumatic, I wouldn’t say, but almost.

As you might remember, Trevor and four of the kids were in England just before Freya was born.  I had felt peaceful about letting them go, because although my blood pressure was high-ish, we had ruled out other symptoms of preeclampsia.

Thursday, July 19

I made it through just over a week of their 10-day trip with my blood pressure more or less behaving, despite the uncomfortably hot and humid July weather and the fact that my dad was working on giving our house a new roof and a lick of paint that week. Then on the Thursday before the Saturday they were due home, I had my regularly scheduled midwife appointment.  My BP was high that afternoon, and Barbara sent me straight to triage.

At first I was confident that I would have the same lack of preeclampsia symptoms I had had the previous week and be sent home, but something in the way the nurses were talking seemed a little different this time.

Now that I was past 37-weeks and considered full-term, they explained, there was really no reason to wait around for my high blood pressure to get any worse or turn into preeclampsia. ¬†They wanted to keep me and begin inducing me THAT NIGHT. ¬†At this I started crying (apparently crying is NOT good for one’s blood pressure) and explaining that my husband was in England and couldn’t they please PLEASE just wait 48 hours???

I am so thankful that that evening in triage I had a Christian nurse named Melinda who was like a hilarious little angel. ¬†She kept me distracted by cracking jokes and fussing over my kids’ names (you all know this is my love language!). She even prayed over my urine sample before it went to the lab! ¬†I really believe if it hadn’t been for her calming effect on me, things could have ended up very differently.

In the end, my midwife and the doctor on call agreed that things weren’t so urgent that we couldn’t wait for Trevor to get home. ¬†I was sent home, exhausted and relieved, with orders to return at 5PM on Sunday for an induction. ¬†I also had to check my blood pressure at home and call if it got out of hand.

Friday-Saturday, July 20-21

Friday was Delia’s birthday. ¬†My dad was wrapping things up at the house and my stepmother Debbiecame over to visit. ¬†Seeing how much I was stressing myself out by trying not to be stressed out, she asked if she could take the kids back to their house. ¬†I happily accepted her offer, although I still feel a little sad that I never got a chance to sing Happy Birthday to Delia that day.

My best friend Mary then took me to her lovely air-conditioned home for a movie followed by dinner out.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

On Saturday, the gang got back from England. ¬†“A sight for sore eyes” doesn’t begin to describe it!

We had one night all together in our own beds before the fun began…

Sunday, July 22

After church on Sunday we scrambled around unpacking and repacking. ¬†We set off¬†mid-afternoon¬†to drop the kids off at my mom’s and head to the hospital for our induction. ¬†Before we were on the road five minutes I had to brake suddenly and the van began making a decidedly not-good noise. ¬†I called Trevor, and he met me and switched cars with me. ¬†He limped along on slow roads while I waited and prayed at my mom’s house, but he got there! (My wonderful dad got it repaired for us while I was in the hospital.)

We arrived at the hospital about an hour late, having been told that there was no real rush anyway. ¬†And there wasn’t!

I changed into my gown, and they started my IV. And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  My friend Jessi came to visit and hang out, since she was only in town for a couple more days and since absolutely NOTHING was happening.

At 9 pm they finally inserted some medicine to begin to soften things up.  I was told that my body was as unready to give birth as it could possibly be, so we prepared ourselves for a long process.

Monday, July 23

I woke up still feeling absolutely nothing happening, and sure enough, I had made almost no progress overnight. Since I was still not even dilated enough to begin pitocin, I was given another dose of cervadil.

For most of the day I still had no real contractions to speak of.  We watched a couple movies, and by late afternoon/early evening, I was dilated enough to start a very low dose of pitocin.

Naturally the contractions got intense just about the time they began telling me to turn off the lights and try to get some rest.  I was definitely NOT going to sleep through these contractions, so I accepted the offer of a shot of stadol to help me sleep.

And help me sleep it did!  I felt like I was going to melt right into my hospital bed, and I was aware of nothing until about 1 or 2 am when it wore off.  I could tell the contractions had been continuing to work while I slept, and they were intense again by then, so I asked for another dose to get me through till morning.

Tuesday, July 24Freya’s Birthday!

When they checked me in the morning, I had made some definite dilation progress, but my contractions had died down.  They were mild and about ten minutes apart.  I was excited to get started on a proper dose of pitocin to really get the party started.

Meanwhile, my midwife, Barbara had left to deliver another baby overnight and had then gone home to rest. The nurses and the staff midwife were just about to increase my pitocin without her, when she called in to tell them to turn off my pitocin completely.

What on Earth?! Just when I was finally ready to get down to the business of having my baby???  We followed orders, but I felt defeated.  I cried.  I whined to my nurse, and she completely sympathized with my frustration.  She said we would switch off the pitocin for two hours, then get started, with or without Barbara.  That was a plan I could live with.

Around noon, Barbara came in. ¬†She explained that she had not, as I thought, simply switched off my labor so she could take a nap. ¬† ¬†She was allowing time to flush the pitocin receptors in my body so that they would be ¬†able to receive the next dose. ¬†She apologized that that hadn’t been made clear to me, and we got things going.

I ¬†quickly settled into a good rhythm of strong contractions while we watched a couple episodes of Friends (which was sadly not as good as I remembered it being!). I was coping well, but also thinking in the back of my mind that now would be the time to get an epidural if I wanted one. ¬†And I kind of did, but I didn’t get it, because, well, I didn’t need it yet. ¬†But sure enough, I missed my window. ¬†I think epidurals are just not meant for me.

At 2pm I was 5cm, which may not sound like much, but it is a magic number for me after which my labors go very quickly.

At about 3pm Barbara broke my water, which I knew would make things suddenly much harder. ¬†(Incidentally, this was the first time I’d ever had my water broken. It had broken on its own mid-labor with Pippa and Coraline, more or less as I was giving birth with Ro, Bea, Junie and Annis, and well before contractions started with Verity.)

Sometime after 4pm I went to the bathroom and felt the beginnings of the urge to push while sitting on the toilet.  I had Trevor call Barbara in, knowing the main event was at hand.

This is the part of labor when I completely fall apart and lose any sense of composure or decorum. Every time.  I became totally fear-stricken, and of course, it was too late for the epidural.

Through my tears and panic, I asked Trevor to pray. ¬†(I wouldn’t have remembered this detail except that Barbara reminded me of it at my postpartum check-up, which was kind of her, since it was probably the only moment of my established labor when I behaved with any semblance of dignity.).

He prayed, and I rallied, and then I pushed.  As always, it only took about two contractions and quite a bit of tearing and she was in my arms.  And she was perfect, and the world was perfect.  She was born at 4:53 pm weighing 7lbs even.  I was exactly 38 weeks that day.

We both cried, which I don’t remember us ever doing before, but the whole thing had felt like such an ordeal, and then there she was, and it was all worth it.

Unfortunately, my blood pressure did not get the memo that I wasn’t pregnant anymore and continued to stay elevated. ¬†I went home on medication, and I’m still on it now.

The week that followed was a whirlwind.  We came home on the Thursday, and Uncle Adrian arrived for a visit on Friday night.  (Remember, when we had planned all these things we thought I was having a baby in September, August at the earliest.  Oops!)

That Sunday night saw us back in the ER with my blood pressure so high I was sure they were going to readmit me, but I dodged a bullet and got sent home on an increased dose of my new medicine.  Having babies in your forties is no joke!

I really feel like things have only just begun to settle down in the last few weeks. School is back up and running.  Trevor has started a crazy new rotating shift schedule at work, but we are slowly finding our groove.  Life is busy, but good, and we are thankful.

How Freya Poppy Got Her Name

It began as a challenge – almost as a joke: could we name a little girl after her two grandfathers?

We had named a lot of little girls, and even a couple little boys, after the women in our families: two grandmothers, four great-grandmothers, one great-great-grandmother and three great aunts, to be precise!  But the men of our families had been sadly underrepresented.  It seemed time to honor our two fathers, especially since Lewis and Verity had recently been named after our mothers, but it really seemed best to try to honor both of them at once.

For a boy, we had chosen a name (which, naturally, we didn’t need) early on in my pregnancy that solidly linked to both grandfathers. ¬†Their names, by the way, are Peter Godfrey Young and Bruce James Gilbert. ¬†But for a girl? ¬†Was it even possible???

We had fun playing around with it for a while (and when I say “we”, I primarily mean me and my name enthusiast friends, not me and Trevor. ¬†He generally enters the scene a bit later in the name game, by his preference!). She could have been Godfrina Jamesine or Gilbertine Petra or Brucetta Petrice – there were some very colorful possibilities in those early brainstorms! ¬†But it did start to look like it might not be a realistically achievable goal.

But then there was Freya. ¬†A name we both really loved that had maybe just a close enough tie to her Grandad’s middle name, Godfrey, to do the trick.

Freya is a Norse goddess of some lovely things like love and beauty, but also of some rather less lovely things like warfare and sorcery. ¬†Pagan dieties are not usually our cup of tea, but family names are, and the actually meaning of the name is “noble lady”, so we pressed on. ¬†(Also she drives a chariot pulled by cats, and you have to admit, that’s pretty cool.)

But how to honor Pop-pop? ¬†We were just about to give up on the whole crazy idea when Poppy entered the conversation. ¬†A sweet nod to Pop-pop, and also a perfect fit with our little bouquet of floral girls’ names (Pippa Violet, Juniper, Delphinia). ¬†The whole combo just sparkled for me, and was more or less settled by the beginning of my second trimester.

 

Now here is a fun fact about this pregnancy that we mostly kept to ourselves: for the first time in eight pregnancies, we knew we were having a girl!

On the day of my 20-week ultrasound (the one that actually turned out to be my 24-week ultrasound), only Pippa went back with me while Trevor waited with the gang in the waiting room (they all got to come in for a quick hello to baby at the end).

I told the tech we didn’t want to know the gender, and she let us know when we should look away from the screen. ¬†Unfortunately, poor Pip, who hadn’t thought she would recognize much on an ultrasound anyway, accidentally glanced back up a moment too soon in time to see the words “It’s a girl!” typed proudly across the screen (why?!? ¬†I have no idea!). I knew as soon as I saw her face that she knew.

Trevor and I talked it over with her, and since she said she was happy to keep her secret, and we still didn’t want to know, we carried on as we were for three excruciating weeks. ¬†When Pippa finally slipped and called the baby “she”, I was flooded with both relief at the secret being out and, much to my own surprise, absolute giddiness about having another girl!

As of when she was born, more than half the immediate family knew she was a girl, plus my sister and a whole bunch of people at church and random strangers (because I always panicked when someone asked if I knew what I was having!)  Niko and Junie so staunchly did NOT want to know the gender that they turned down the gender reveal cake Pippa had baked to let them in on the secret and took themselves off to bed! (Despite this, poor June accidentally found out she was a girl while I was in labor!)

Knowing that she was a she, and therefore knowing that she was Freya Poppy, before she was born was such a fun and unusual experience for us. ¬†It’s not something we ever would have chosen, but we definitely now see the appeal of taking a peek ahead of time!

And that is the tale of how (and when!) our new girl got her name. ¬†We hope that despite the somewhat less obvious namesaking, both grandfathers will feel loved and honored by her name, and perhaps relieved that we didn’t go with Brucetta Petrice!

 

Introducing Freya!

When I said that my next post might be a baby announcement, I had no idea how soon I would have a baby to announce!

Freya Poppy entered the world at 4:53 pm on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 following a 48-hour long induction process.  She weighed 7 lbs exactly and was 20 inches long.

We think she’s just perfect! ¬†I will come back soon to tell you about her name and her arrival. ¬†It’s been a slow recovery as my blood pressure has continued to stay elevated, so I would appreciate prayers that that will settle down without any further intervention.

Miss Freya herself is doing wonderfully.  She is feeding well, regaining her birth weight, sleeping well, and just oh, so sweet!  We are so very thankful God has blessed our family with this precious gift.

 

School’s Out for Summer

The end of the school year was a whirlwind of activity!  It seemed for a couple weeks there that nearly every day was a field trip or a party or an award ceremony for the schoolies, while on the homefront we were busily compiling our portfolios and completing our testing and evaluations. But it all got done, whew!

Lewis had a great year.  He can verbally count to ten now, recognizes most of his letters, and can copy text beautifully.  He was loved by his peers and teachers both in his life skills class and his third grade mainstream class.    Here is he with his dear little friend Jude on his field trip to the natural history museum:

He is currently attending half days of school for his extended school year, and thriving there as well, and he will definitely be going back to school in the fall.

Teddy will also be joining Lewis in school next year. The services have been so good for Lewis that we really feel this is the best way to meet the needs of our special boys, though they will certainly be a handful in the same life skills class next year!  Brothers, through and through!

Bea also finished her year with a bang. ¬†Both she and Ro participated in the track team in the late spring. ¬†Bea’s teacher also chose to honor her with the Citizenship Award for showing good character and leadership qualities. ¬†This girl loved every minute of her year of school, but is very excited to come back home next year (as we are to have her back). She made her decision a couple of months ago and never looked back.

Romilly also had an excellent year. ¬†She won the Silver Pen Award for writing excellence for a fictional story which I will share here in photos. ¬†I can’t read it without ugly crying.

Her sixth grade graduation was such a special day.  It was clear how hard she had worked and how this year had accomplished so much of what she hoped it would for her.

Please pray with Ro as she continues to struggle with her decision about school for next year.  She was solidly in the go-to-middle-school camp until a few weeks ago, then just as solidly in the come-back-home camp, and now she is firmly on the fence.  We see advantages and disadvantages for her in both, but we mostly just desire for her to make a decision that she is excited about and has no regrets.  And I kind of need her to decide quickly, because I have to submit my homeschool paperwork for next year by the end of this month!

It feels weirder to brag about my homeschoolers, but they really all had an excellent year, too, pursuing different interests and making steady progress in their academics.  Pippa earned her motorboating license in June and was able to put it to good use on our recent camping trip.

 

Summer has been kind to us so far. ¬†As I write this, Trevor and four kiddos are in England spending precious time with Trevor’s family. ¬†Time that almost didn’t happen! ¬†My blood pressure has been a bit on the higher side this whole pregnancy, but on the evening before they were due to leave it was higher than it had been before. ¬†My midwife sent me to the hospital for bloodwork to rule out preeclampsia, and while I was there my blood pressure came right down and my bloodwork all came back normal. ¬†She gave us the all clear for Trevor to go, and I have stayed perfectly healthy while they’ve been away. ¬†We are so very thankful for God’s mercy in giving us such clear direction, as we had all been feeling a little uneasy about their traveling so close to my due date (which USED to be early September, but is now decidedly early August!)

They have had such a sweet time visiting extended family, while I have had a surprisingly peaceful time at home with my little brood of seven!

 

 

And the homefront:

It is quite possible that the next update I give here could be a birth announcement!  This pregnancy has flown by (what, with the lost month and all), and we are so excited to meet this new little life.  We would welcome prayers for my health and the safe arrival of the newest Young!