…because I had a baby!
I’ve been debating how to write about our most recent birth story because…well…I haven’t even blogged about the pregnancy, and this birth was so different that I can’t really NOT blog about the pregnancy. So I’ve decided to split it into two posts – one about the pregnancy, one about the birth. Which means that I’m committing to come back and write another entry in a reasonable amount of time. We’ll see how this goes.
Let me preface this by saying that this was the FASTEST PREGNANCY EVER. Seriously, I look down at this child and I think, “How could this even be possible?” So, I’m just going to give you a highlight reel of the whole thing!
Josh and I went to Haiti.
Now, you might ask, what does Haiti have to do with being pregnant?
When we committed to going on the trip, we knew that that meant deliberately postponing pregnancy until sometime afterwards. We don’t have our family super planned out or anything, but we knew it was about the time we would normally be getting pregnant. I talked to my doctor, and she recommended preventing pregnancy for 2 cycles after our trip to make sure I hadn’t contracted anything while I was there.
SO, 2 cycles later…
I was shooting a wedding that evening, and Josh was out of town. Cynthia had graciously agreed to watch my kids until he got back, and she picked them up a few hours earlier than she needed to so that she could take them to an activity. As they were leaving I realized that A) I was probably late enough to justify taking a pregnancy test, B) I hadn’t used the bathroom yet that day, (ladies, you know why this is important!), and C) I was alone and FREE to do whatever I wanted without little eyes and ears! So I did what any sensible woman would do: I went to Dollar General, bought a pregnancy test, came home, and took the test.
Oh, and it was positive.
For the first month or so that Josh and I knew I was pregnant we did…nothing. Poor 4th baby!
Although we typically don’t wait until the end of the first trimester to announce a pregnancy, I would be finishing my first trimester right at Christmas, so we decided to TRY to delay announcing the pregnancy until then. (I say TRY because, it was a fourth baby, and I was “showing” before I was even pregnant!) We like to have an ultrasound before we make that announcement, so as we got into December I knew that we had to make a decision about what medical route we wanted to take with this pregnancy.
As you probably know, we have taken a traditional route in the past: traditional doctor group, traditional hospital delivery, and, most importantly, traditional epidural! However, this is also an expensive route, even with insurance (Egan was 2 before we paid all the bills from his birth!) I’m also not a fan of spending two days in a hospital. Also, with the added responsibilities of homeschooling, I was not wanting to sit with 3 crazy kids in an OB waiting room for an hour or more every month, only to be seen by the doctor for 10 minutes. (Not to mention the parking! Yikes!) When I was pregnant with Egan, we had done a little research on an alternative route our city had to offer, but we ended up chickening out and sticking with what we know. This time, I felt a little braver. Enter, the Birth Cottage.
The Birth Cottage is a birthing center run by a mother/daughter midwife team just a few blocks from the hospital. We went for a consultation there so that we could make sure that it wasn’t too crazy. We liked what we saw and learned, so then I had to decide…did I like it enough to forego my traditional epidural?? I decided that if there is a time to “man up” and have a natural childbirth, it’s with a 4th baby. So we had our first ultrasound and visit with the Birth Cottage just in time for Christmas.
Surprisingly, although I’m sure some people were starting to figure it out, our family was still in the dark about the pregnancy.
For the grandparents, we made them a framed picture that included an ultrasound picture of ALL of their grandbabies. Of course, I don’t actually have a picture of that! For the kids, I hid the ultrasound picture in the tree…
They were so excited! Our kids aren’t perfect, but they are always delighted to add someone to the family!
I was rounding out nicely, so on a girlfriend photo shoot, I had Cynthia attempt to take a picture where I looked pregnant and not just fat!
And here I am with my girls…I lurv them!
I had A LOT of fatigue in my second trimester. I know that’s not normal, but my theory is I put so much effort into hiding the pregnancy (particularly from Ava, who was with me 24/7,) in my first trimester that I saved all of that fatigue for my second trimester.
We were already halfway through! (Like I said, it went incredibly fast!)
Of course, we kept tradition and didn’t find out the gender. Ava was really, really rooting for a girl. To the point that I briefly thought about finding out the gender just so she would have time to recover if it ended up being a boy. But we didn’t.
March and April:
I don’t even know what happened! We were super busy with Memory Masters, Spring Break, and wrapping up our co-op. Other than our Birth Cottage appointment each month, and the fact that getting dressed was really inconvenient, we weren’t thinking about the pregnancy much at all!
Including names. One night I said to Josh, “It probably says a lot about us that we are 6 months pregnant, we don’t have ANY names picked out…and we’re not worried about it.”
I did have a nice surprise at the end of April. Tiffany and Jackie came back to town, and my girls surprised me with a baby shower! I mean, this was totally uncalled for, as these were the same girls that threw me a surprise baby shower when I was pregnant with Egan! We had dinner and ice cream, decorated onesies (my favorite was Tiff’s: “Don’t know if I’m elated or gassy!”), and I was gifted with a new swing and Caffeine Free Dr. Pepper. Yes, these girls know my heart!!
You already know about the crazy belly painting!
Josh and I also had a nice little “babymoon” in Atlanta one weekend!
It was maternity pictures time!! I will be using pictures from our shoot with the amazing Steffi of Polished Arrow Photography for the rest of the post. I e-mailed myself A BUNCH of phone pictures to illustrate the end of this post…and now they seem to be lost somewhere in cyber space! Oh well, at least these pics are MUCH better quality!
In June, I directed VBS on Sunday evenings. That may not have seemed optimal, but my VBS team is so amazing that I knew they’d be fine if I had to leave for whatever reason.
I also was doing an “accelerated summer fun” program with the kids! I knew that, once the baby was born, I wouldn’t be able to do much outside of the house, so we had to pack all our summer fun into one month!
We went down to our local beach a couple times, the activity pool a few times, blueberry picking once, a few trips to the splash pad…as well as swimming lessons and summer gymnastics. I tried to keep us on the go as much as possible!
I also realized that Ava is old enough to need a more thorough explanation of what is going on. One Saturday, we took a breakfast date to McDonalds with my Bible and college biology book. We read Psalm 139, looked over some diagrams…and well, it was a lot of info at one time, but it was at least the START to an ongoing dialogue!
And the Birth Cottage. I will wax poetic on the merits of midwives and birthing centers in the next post, but I will just say that even the prenatal experience with them was different, but in a good way. The first thing that struck me was how incredibly family friendly they are. The waiting room and exam room has some amazing toys, so our kids loved coming to my check-ups! And we also virtually never had to wait, so we KNEW we would be in and out in half an hour.
I have already mentioned that it is run by a mother/daughter team. We met with Alice, the mother, for our first consultation and visit, and then she left the country for the remainder of my pregnancy (smart lady!) Which means that her daughter, Layla, and a few midwife students were stuck with me for the rest of the time!
I joked that I was the “Black Sheep” of the Birth Cottage…I was constantly losing/forgetting forms I was supposed to fill out, I don’t eat all organic, I had no interest in eating or burying my placenta, and what exactly ARE Kegels, anyway?? But everyone was super patient with me..and our kids, even when Egan stuck a toy in Layla’s cup of coffee!
The experience was interactive for the kids, too. They were always getting to help with the Doppler and measurements, and everything was explained to them so beautifully. We were even told that it was fine for them to participate in the birth…which I politely opted out of!
With our vehicle finally loaded with the supplies we would need for birth, we were down to one thing we really needed: a name for this child.
We had narrowed it down to three-ish names for each gender. Ava had REALLY wanted to name the baby my whole pregnancy, but of course I have all sorts of issues with number of syllables, not rhyming, starting with a vowel, spiritual meaning, etc. Finally we decided to make a list of boy names and a list of girl names. We let Israel pick out a boy name and Ava pick out a girl name from the list. We didn’t tell ANYONE the names. We figured with just a few days left, it might as well be a surprise!
WELL, the plan was for my parents to come spend July 4th with us and take the kids back with them for a week hanging out with grandparents and going to camp. I was due July 12th, so MY plan was to spend at least a few kid-free days wrapping up with photo editing, homeschool planning, organizing around the house, and maybe even chilling out and watching a few movies!
Let’s just say, the baby had other plans.
But that’s a WHOLE ‘nother post!