My sister reminded me that I needed to write a more detailed story of Hope's birth. I am so euphoric over my sweet baby girl, so absolutely in love with everything about her, and I find myself thinking through those details differently than I did a few hours after delivery when I said to Erik, "I don't want to do that again." I told him last night, "I would do it again, honey." A few days of nuzzling soft baby hair and looking into blinking blue eyes have made me think, "This can't be the last baby!" She is so amazing.
The week before Hope's birth, I was a little antsy. I hit 39 weeks, and I felt impatient to hold my baby. Saturday night (one week before she arrived) I went for an evening walk alone and prayed through the impatience in my heart, asking God to help me surrender the timing to Him and to trust in His goodness as I waited. I prayed for Hope, and I prayed for my three older girls, that I would love them, enjoy them, and delight in them, even as we all waited for our fourth baby to join the family.
We spent the week playing outside, going for one last (very short) bike ride, going to swim lessons and the park, and enjoying the county fair. My due date passed, and I felt content. The big girls got to attend the rodeo with Daddy on Wednesday. Friday morning, I took them to see the animals, ride the kiddie train, and eat a snow cone. It was hot, and dusty, and the kids had a blast.
That night, I went to bed, feeling settled in my heart, but also praying that our little peanut would come soon. I had been having a hard time falling back asleep after my midnight trip to the bathroom :), so the hours from 1-3 had become my private prayer closet. That night was no exception. Around 4, I got up to pee again, and when I lay back down, my uterus cramped a little more vigorously than my usual Braxton Hicks. I didn't think too much of it, since I had had several periods of moderate pre-labor contractions during the week. Around 4:45, I realized I'd had a couple strong contractions, and decided to time one. Ten minutes on the nose. I decided to get up, take a shower, and relax a while before waking my sleeping husband. But, as soon as I stood up, contractions came hard, one on top of the other. Erik saw the bathroom light on and stirred, saying, "What's going on, wifey?" I told him I was contracting, and he asked, "Real ones?" I said, "I think so."
Erik got up slowly and turned on the shower. I was shivering and cold, and I tried to walk to the closet to grab a pair of sweats. I didn't make it. Another contraction gripped my belly, and I knelt by the bed to breathe through it. Erik said, "Was that another one?" I nodded. "I don't think you have time to shower," I told him. "We should probably call Jenn (our midwife)." Erik made the call, and then another one to our sweet neighbors. It was 5:20. I struggled to pull on socks while Erik tossed me his roomy fleece pants and got himself dressed.
I needed to lay down, so I grabbed pillows from our bed and stumbled downstairs with Erik at my heels. He went to turn off our sprinklers in the back yard (so the neighbors wouldn't get soaked walking over) and I tried to lay down in the car. I had to move the infant seat, which was already buckled in, but I was contracting hard, and shivering, and I couldn't do it. Erik helped and I nestled into pillows as best I could. Erik let Trish into the house, and when he came back, I said. "You have my permission to drive over the speed limit."
He did. We made the twenty minute drive through town in about ten. I was still shaking, and the heat was blasting. I tried to relax and breathe deeply through each contraction, but my adrenaline was definitely pumping. :)
We pulled into the E.R. and I hurried, with no shoes on, into the hospital. I just wanted to get where I could lay down again. Jenn had called ahead, and the paperwork was waiting for us. I scribbled something illegible on the consent form and lunged for a wheelchair. Jenn was waiting outside the birthing room with a labor nurse, and she helped us get to the bed. She asked a few questions, helped me out of my clothes and into a gown, and then let me labor for a while before checking my cervix or intervening in any way. She was just there, which was really nice. Meanwhile, the labor nurse tried to start an IV and get blood. It took two tries to start the IV, and then another site was needed for the blood draw. There wasn't much time between contractions, and I was achy and in pain even in the "off" times, and I remember telling her she better be quick. (Erik said I wasn't bratty, though. I asked him.)
I remember asking Erik to go back to the car and get my list of verses. I needed them. But there was never time to read them.
When Jenn did check me a few minutes later, I was 9 1/2 cm. A few contractions later, she told me I could push whenever I felt like it. I did feel like pushing, but pushing was really hard - because my water bag was still intact and I didn't feel like I could be productive. She couldn't break the bag until the first dose of antibiotics was "in," (I had positive Group B Strep and they want you to have two doses ideally) so she asked the nurse to bolus the medication.
I pushed (screaming my head off, I will admit! :)) for a few contractions, and, as Hope was emerging, Jenn ruptured my membranes. She told me to reach down and "catch" her, so I did. Her head and shoulders were out, and I lifted the rest of her easily from my body and up to my chest, waiting for her sweet cry and holding her naked, wet body with trembling arms. It was 6:32. Erik prayed out loud, and for a couple of hours, I just got to hold her close, loving her. She actually cried most of that time. I think our frantic labor must have unnerved her a bit, too. :)
Today, I was snuggling her and I quoted her from a kids' book by Noel Piper. "Your mommy loves you, your daddy loves you, your sisters love you, your aunts and uncles and cousins love you, your grandma and grandpa and Nana love you..... but most of all, Jesus loves you!"
Oh, how he loves you, little one! And I pray that you will grow up bathed in the love of your family, all the while aware that our imperfect love for you can never match the love of Jesus Christ for you! We are so blessed that He gave us you!