Cash's Birth Story

When I got pregnant with Cash, we were not trying to conceive.  In fact, we were doing the opposite.  Only not very effectively.  Obviously.  Really, because it had taken me so long to get pregnant with Libby, I didn’t think it was going to happen.  

About six weeks after Libby's first birthday, in the end of July, I had a strange pain right below my left nostril.  I thought it was a zit or some kind of oil bump coming up.  It was very painful.  Able to endure pain okay, I just figured it would go away.  It didn’t.  When the pain began to wake me up in the middle of the night and I was having to take Tylenol just to bear it, I knew it must be something besides a pimple.  But what?

The pain got so bad over a weekend that I had to go into an urgent care facility.  My parents happened to be visiting.  My dad went with me.

The doctor almost immediately told me I had a tooth absess.  This didn’t make any sense to me.  I had no pain in my tooth or when I would bite down on things.  I had injured my front two teeth when I was nine years old (almost knocked them out) and we talked about how sometimes these things happen even after a number of years.

She prescribed pain meds (Vicodin- it was that bad) and a strong anti-biotic. I was worried about this because I was nursing Libby still and didn’t want to be forced into weaning her.  I kept nursing her regardless after talking to a friend/doctor who said it would be okay.

As I was walking out of the doctor’s office, I realized that I was on day 28 of my cycle and that there was always outside chance that I was pregnant.  Did I want to take all this medicine if I was pregnant?  I was embarrassed to ask in front of my dad, but I asked anyway.  They gave me a pregnancy test.  It came back negative.  I was good to go.

I tried to take the pain medication but it made me trippy and restless.  I only took one dose and then a half dose and I was done.  I was glad to know I wasn’t pregnant but I ended up talking another test a few days later and sure enough, baby number three was coming.  I was shocked.  I remember walking out of the bathroom after viewing the test and falling to my knees in prayer at my bedside.  I was a little overwhelmed.  I felt as if God revealed to me in that moment that my baby was a boy.  I hadn’t planned to have another so soon, but you just go forward.  I knew I wanted more children so it wasn’t hard to adjust to the timing.

I ended up having two root canals at the beginning of August and then waited to do some other dental work until I was out of my first trimester.  It was a crazy start to a pregnancy.

Again, the typical nausea and blahs, exhaustion, and hard work of the first trimester began.  To lighten the load, three of my best friends were also pregnant and we were all due within three months of each other.  I even had a couple of friends out of town who were due about the same time.  So I had many to commiserate with.

When we found out the sex of the baby, I was not surprised. I was having a boy!  The name debate began.  Jimmy wanted him to be a junior.  (James Turner Alley Jr.)  We had gone through this with Jackson.  I had not been into it then.  My dad’s name is also James.  My oldest sister married a James. Two of my nephews had the middle name James. There were enough.  I put Jimmy off.  I said, “Didn’t you, as the second born, always want to be a junior?  Why don’t we do that for our son?  If we have another boy, he can be the junior.”

I was thinking, of course, that Jimmy would forget by then, or that we may not even have another son.  I thought wrong.  Well, not totally wrong.  Jimmy did forget.  He told me that his mom had reminded him of the deal I had made with him.

I really didn’t want Jimmy’s name.  It just didn’t feel right to me.  I was pushing for Benjamin but Jimmy didn’t like that.  We were on a trip, driving to Georgia to see some friends, and discussing the name.  Agreeing upon nothing.  Jimmy was still insisting on a namesake/junior.  Things were getting heated.  We were listening to Johnny Cash.  My husband is a fan.  I said, “What about Cash?  You like Johnny Cash.”  And it was like a light came on in his head.  From that moment on, he wanted Cash and there was no discussion.  I tried to backpedal (I had blurted it out, was just trying to distract, suggest anything but the junior idea...I didn’t even know if I liked it!) but there was no changing his mind.  He had completely forgotten about the namesake but I suggested him still being James, just James Cash instead of James Turner.  And we could call him Cash.

The entire pregnancy with Cash I would regularly worry about making it to the hospital in time, considering my previous labors. I went into labor three days before my due date, which was fine with me.  My parents were there; I knew it was close to time and my dad planned on watching the kids so Mom and Jimmy and I could do our thing (we had a system going now) and get the baby out when the time came.

I was determined to labor at home as long as possible.  But when it came down to it, I was getting stressed out at home.  The kids were running around, people were making dinner, doing normal household stuff, but I wanted to be in a place where I could focus.  When things started to come fast (every five minutes) I decided I better go.  

Things were pretty intense on the way there.  I was afraid of having the baby in the car so I was freaking out a little.  The peak of my contractions were pretty bad.  I made it into triage only to be faced with “You’re about five and a half centimeters.”  Most would be happy with this but I was pretty bummed out.  I had been in a lot of pain to only be five and a half.  I geared up for labor.

Three hours later, I was six and a half and my contractions were less intense and further apart.  I was tired.  I knew it was a good idea to try and walk around, but I couldn’t bring myself to get up.  We just kept thinking everything was going to happen so fast, but every delivery is different.

My OB had given me his personal phone numbers.  He had been my doctor for all three pregnancies, but hadn’t delivered either so far.  He said I could call him and he’d be there.  But when it came down to it, I didn’t bother him.  For two reasons.  Number one, it was a Friday night.  Number two, the doctor who was on call told me I was his only patient.  I figured I’d probably get pretty good attention.

I wish I had called my doctor.  When I got checked at about 8:30 p.m. (when I was 6 and a half cm dilated) this doctor decides, while he’s gloved up and all inside my business (in other words I’m in an extremely vulnerable position) to reach for the big tool that looks like a knitting hook.  I said, “What are you doing?” and he said, “Let’s just break your water and get things going.”  Did I want to get things going?  Yes!  Did I want my water broken?  I wasn’t sure. Can’t we talk about this?  But before I could really do anything, it was done and over whether I wanted it or not.

I did not go from 7 to 10 in thirty minutes, but after my water was broken, things did start to happen.  I screamed out for pain medication at about 8 cm. Too late.  I could do this.  I was ready to push about 2 and a half hours after he broke my water.  I had a really green nurse.  I told her I was ready to push. She was sitting off to the side and said, “Go ahead.”  Did she not know that a third time mom might just shoot the baby right across the floor?  I said, “Don’t you think you should call the doctor?” and she came back with, “Let’s just see what happens.”  I could have told her what was going to happen but decided she’d see soon enough.

I pushed about twice.  Then she says, “Okay, stop pushing, breathe through it.  DON’T PUSH,”  while she frantically pushes the call button.  The nurse answers.  She asks them to call the doctor and get in there.  I want the baby out.  She keeps telling me to wait.  I ask, “Can you just do it?  Can I please just push it out?”  And she says, “I can do it if you want...” in a very non-confident way.  (And where is the doctor, by the way, I knew I was his only patient!)  But her agreement to catch him was all I needed.  One or two pushes and Cash was born.  It was the first time that nurse had ever delivered a baby.  Luckily a more experienced nurse had come in and was standing over her shoulder.  The doctor arrived in time for the after birth.  Whatever.

Jimmy had been video taping when things got hectic.  He left the tape running and set it down on a table next to a Pepsi can.  So I have no video of the birth, just the Pepsi can and part of my leg but I do have the audio and I was groaning and yelling pretty bad.  I remember saying pretty soon afterward, “I don’t want to do that again for a REALLY LONG time!”  I was so relieved and glad it was over.

Even though Cash was born right before midnight and we could have gotten an extra night in the hospital, we decided to come home at the 48 hour mark, which was around midnight.  I had my sweet baby in a bassinet right by my bed.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night SO THIRSTY.  My milk had come in.  It was as if my breastfeeding glands had sucked every bit of moisture from my entire body.  I drank a ton of water.  I needed fluids!

This was a mark of things to come.  Cash grew like crazy.  He was a really fat baby.  I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do a good job nursing him, with two others running around.  But he was huge!  And such a blessing.  He was an extremely laid back baby and super easy.  I loved taking care of him.  He was my Cashy-boy.


Yearly Update. Ages 3,6,8,10,12

It's nearly September of 2014 and time for my yearly update and photos.  This year I called all the children into my room on a Sunday morning.  I made them all stand still and look at me.  I asked them if they could pleeeeease, for their uncomfortable pregnant mother, agree to a no drama, no complaining, no crazy behavior photo shoot on our way to church.  They are not allowed to complain about what I ask them to wear, and must follow directions very carefully.  They all agreed.  And they all behaved.  Sometimes you get a win.

Juliet.  Age 3 1/2.  If you say Juliet is three, she quickly corrects you and tells you that she is three and a half.  She holds up her first, middle, and pinky finger, holding down her ring finger with her thumb and will tell you,  "This is my gang sign."  Jackson taught her that.  (It looks like three and a half fingers.)  Juliet is independent, introverted, and wonderful.  She plays a lot by herself.  I have learned that just because you are born into a large family, it doesn't mean you will draw your energy from all their crazy.  Juliet draws hers from quietly pretending, playing, and coloring.  She is very bright and says amazingly cute things like last night she crawled into bed and I began to get her stuffed toys and blankets and pillows in order so I could properly tuck her in.  She laid flat on her back, looked up at me with a smile and said, "Decorate me, Mom."  She needs no decoration.  She is Juliet.

Penelope.  Age 6.  Penelope continues to be what I've called her since she was a toddler---my wild card.  You never know what she is going to do or say.  She runs around in her underwear a lot.  She jumps up on tables and strikes a pose just for the thrill of it.  She has a belly laugh that is hilarious.  One thing I love about Penelope is that she calls me "momma".  None of the other kids call me that, and she is committed to it.  She uses it a lot when she is hungry, which is often.  She swims like a mermaid, goes way down deep underwater without goggles, hair flowing behind her.  She is Penelope.

Cash.  Age 8.  Living up to his name sake, Cash reminds me a lot of Jimmy.  He likes to push peoples buttons.  He is lots of fun.  He is in the middle and just can't help it.  He doesn't miss a thing.  He listens to everything and absorbs it all.  He is willing to try anything-- a new food, a flip off the diving board-- he's all in.  Cash comes to hug me every night when he is finished reading and ready to turn out his light.  He must hug my belly, and enjoys poking at it and trying to figure out what body part of the baby he might be feeling.  Cash is very musical.  Has picked up the piano very quickly.  Today he spent some of his piano time picking out the "Rocky" theme.  He is Cash.

Libby.  Age 10.  When I edited these photos and Jimmy saw them he just kept saying, "Look how big she is!"  Our little baby girl is growing up.  This year I told someone, "She's a better mom than me."  Meaning, she reads with better voices, plays with more energy, and has a deeper well of creative juice.  But as Cash is Jimmy's name sake, Libby is mine.  Last night we enjoyed planning preschool activities for Juliet.  We both hate American cheese.  And of course there is the art.  Libby has better access to her right brain than anyone I know.  She asks me a lot of questions about her soon coming baby sister.  She will share a room with her and Libby is so excited to have a baby for a roommate.  Not many kids would be.  But she is.  She is Libby.

Jackson.  Age 12.  Tonight Jackson pulled Juliet into his top bunk and used his reading light to make shadow puppets with her on the ceiling.  He doesn't exactly have it easy, as the big brother of five kids.  But he is very good at it.  He has become quite the leader, especially when it comes to cleaning up the house.  He assigns each kid and area/room, and though he does end up raising his voice in frustration at them when they slack off, I can't judge him...he learned from his mother.  He continues to yo-yo, read, and is now enjoying being old enough for youth activities at church this fall.  He is Jimmy's sidekick on cleaning jobs and lawn care of various properties.  He just told me "I can't wait for those tiny diapers."  He's been around for a few babies.  He knows what's cute.  He's pretty cute too.  He is Jackson.

I love you guys!!!


Libby's Birth Story

**Part of me feels the need to apologize for the length of this post.  The other part of me couldn't care less.  There are not very many people who read my blog anyway.  This post is for you, Libby.


When Jackson was about 15 months old, I was ready to start trying for another baby.  I had just weaned Jackson and I was smart enough to do the math...if I got pregnant right away, my kids would be about two years apart.  I was having a blast with Jackson, but I knew I wanted him to have a sibling and playmate.

There was really no discussion between Jimmy and myself.  We have always wanted a lot of kids.   I had a pretty good idea of when I was fertile.  So we went for it.  Trying to get pregnant is a roller coaster of emotions.  You are excited and hopeful but then disappointed and sad, all on a month long cycle.  We began trying to get pregnant in February of 2003.  I remember that by June I was pretty down about the whole thing.  I of course began to wonder if God was not going to give me any more children.

I spent a lot of time in prayer.  I was specifically praying for twin girls.  I wanted a girl so bad.  I remember at my ultrasound with Jackson I was hoping so much for a girl that I cried later because it was not a girl.  Of course that only lasted a few minutes but the desire to have a baby girl was still there.

After more negative tests that summer, at the end of September I was late, and began to hope maybe I was pregnant after all.  I decided to take a test.  It came back negative.  I thought.  It was hard to tell.  I thought maybe I was seeing where the line was supposed to be.  It was extremely faint.  I left the bathroom and told Jimmy it was a "no" and watched some TV.  No big deal.  I was used to it.    But when we went to bed I looked at the test which was still on the counter.  It was very bold by then and I began to think maybe I was pregnant after all.  I got another test the next day and this one was obviously positive.  I was of course super excited.  Jackson had just had his second birthday.  Not my original timing or plan, but I was pregnant!

When I went to my first appointment, I thought they might do an ultrasound and check my due date.  I was hoping so, because I wanted TWO babies.  I was praying for this like crazy.  I was consumed with it.  They did do an ultrasound.  And there was just one.  I was disappointed but held out hope that maybe he had missed it.

As time went on it was obvious there was just one baby in there and I learned to accept it.  Maybe it would be my baby girl!  I hoped so.  My nausea was back again.  Worse this time.  I ate lots of scrambled eggs and cheese this time.  It did not let up at the end of the first trimester, but finally tapered off at about 16 weeks.

When Jimmy and I went for my 20 week ultrasound, I wore a pink shirt in honor of the female gender, hoping there would be a clear picture between this baby’s legs and that there would NOT be a penis there.

It happened.  It was a girl.  I was in shock.  It was sort of unbelievable.  I had been given a gift.  I wanted a girl and I was carrying one.  I remember standing in the parking lot afterwards with Jimmy and just feeling happy and looking at the pictures they gave us and everything seemed so surreal.

I bought a couple girl outfits only a few days later.  I was excited.  I was due June 5, 2004.  Because I had carried Jackson past date, I figured I could count on this baby being born in June.  How convenient, because my mom’s middle name is June.  We planned on naming her Elizabeth June.  (Elizabeth is my middle name.)  We would call her Libby.  Years later, I was reading an old diary from high school.  I used to write name suggestions for my children in there.  I had written, right next to each other, the names Jackson and Libby.  I was living my dreams.

But dreams come with reality checks.  I began at about 24 weeks to have the vein and circulation issues that have gotten worse with each pregnancy since then.  I had to prop my feet up as often as I could and try not to stand for long periods.

Right after I found out the gender, we began to consider moving.  I hadn’t done anything in the way of decorating a nursery; I was waiting to find out if it would be a girl or a boy.  We owned our house so I of course was planning on painting and doing whatever I wanted to make the room just right.  But a job opportunity arose for my husband back in Tallahassee (where Jackson was born) and we decided to go for it.  We found out the gender in January and moved in the beginning of March.  I would now be welcoming my baby girl into a three bedroom apartment.  No painting or making any big adjustments but the walls were white and I figured I could live with that.

One amazing part of living in the apartment for the last trimester of my pregnancy was that there was a pool in the complex.  Jackson had taken infant swimming lessons the summer before and could swim all over the pool, even at 2 and a half!  So we had a blast and the weightlessness helped my circulation issues and provided exercise as well.  Being able to get into the pool regularly made everything much more bearable.

I remember taking Jackson swimming on June 6, one day past my due date.  I began to have a lot of intense contractions while I was in the pool.  A neighbor asked me when I was due and was amazed when I said, “Yesterday.”  I guess she thought I should be more anxious.  I said, “Maybe I’ll have her today, I’m having a lot of contractions.”  Her eyes got really big.  I think I freaked her out.  I sort of freaked myself out.  I got Jackson out of the pool and we went home and by the time I could think about taking any action, the contractions had fizzled and I was disappointed.  I was tired of being pregnant and wanted to see my baby girl.

Monday (June 8) a friend offered to keep Jackson so Jimmy and I could go out.  We went to the movies and saw an action flick, in hopes that the excitement would start my labor.  I had a lot of strong contractions during the movie, and more in the car.  We went home and called my parents.  I told my mom it might be time.  They decided to come as soon as they could.

But again, the contractions stopped.  We met our friends at a restaurant to pick up Jackson.  It was a get together with a lot of our friends.  I couldn’t eat.  I was too worried they’d start up again and I’d have a stomach full of food.  I sat there wondering how life could be so normal around me when inside I was very focused on what my body was doing.  Or wasn’t doing.  Or what I wanted it to be doing.

The next day my dad went on home, leaving my mom.  He figured he’d just drive back (a 2.5 hr. drive) when I went into labor for real.  All day I thought it would happen for me.  Nothing.  I was starting to get mad.  I was really tired of being pregnant.  When your due date comes and goes, you’re sort of lost.  I remember praying out in anger to God and hearing the truth, “My timing is perfect.”  I was trying to be patient.

Tuesday night we went to the mall.  Me, mom, Jimmy, and Jackson.  Walking is always what you do when you want to go into labor.  Get it moving.  Not much seemed to happen.  The problem was, I was having a lot of contractions if I walked or squatted or bent over, but if I was still, I’d have nothing.  I got tired and we all went to bed.  I was having contractions, but only about every 10 minutes.  I knew they had to be 4-5 minutes apart to go to the hospital.

I slept quite a few hours with those contractions every 10 minutes.  (I’d fall asleep between each one.)  That got old.  I got up.  Watched TV.  I’d have them, and they’d be intense, but they were so far apart.  I laid back down.  At about 4 a.m.  Wednesday, June 10, I sat straight up in bed and said to Jimmy, “It’s time to go.”  I had felt something move out of me.  I thought maybe it was fluid or maybe just the baby getting lower, but I knew it was time.  I didn’t care if the contractions weren’t very close together, I just knew.  I woke up my mom and called a friend to come sit with Jackson.  Then I got into the shower.  I had to wait for my friend to get there before we could leave, and I figured it was the right thing to do.  To be clean and have shaved legs because it would be a while before I felt like doing it after today.  When I got out of the shower I could barely get dressed.  Lifting my leg into my clothes was nearly impossible.  I figured I should get going.  

We left for the hospital.  It was getting pretty intense.  I remember barking out orders to my mom and Jimmy.  Something like, “If I ask for pain medication, try to talk me out of it.” I think.  My mom knew it would not be long.  There would be no need for pain management.

I remember pushing the button for the elevator.  I asked Mom what time it was.  Jimmy was parking the car.  It was 5:36 a.m.  I was anxious to get there.  I wanted to know what was going on.  We went to the wrong floor.  Finally made it to triage.  Jimmy caught up.  They sent me to triage to get into a hospital gown and get checked to see if I really was in labor.  If I was, they would admit me to Labor and Delivery.

Mom wasn’t allowed to go with me into triage, only Jimmy.  I made her promise to wait right outside.  They gave me a gown and sent me into the bathroom to get undressed.  I remember thinking it was pretty ridiculous that they act like nothing is going on.  Like I might not actually be in labor.  Who would come to the hospital at 5:30 in the morning if they weren’t having a baby?

I made it to the bed and a nurse checked me.  I was 7.5 cm.  My first question was, “When can I get to a room?”  The nurse didn’t seem to be moving very fast.  I said, “I don’t want my mom to miss this!  I go from 7 to 10 really fast!”

They got me into a wheelchair and pushed me into a room.  The nurse was ready to let me get into the bed.  She was going to give me the IV, put the monitors on my belly, all of that.  I asked her if I could just take a couple more contractions sitting right there in the wheelchair.  She said, “Sure, no problem!”  I then apologized that I was having the baby right at the end of her shift.  She laughed and said, “You’ll be done real quick.  I’m sure I’ll get out of here on time.”  I made it into the bed.   

I don’t remember laboring much after that, it was time to push.  There had been no time for the IV or all of those questions they ask you.  Three pushes and I was holding my baby girl.  She was born at 6:30 a.m., less than an hour after we had gotten into the elevator.  It was amazing.  My easiest and smoothest labor.  Because it was before 7 a.m., no midwives were on the floor.  The same doctor who had delivered Jackson popped in to catch Libby.  Those are the only two times I have ever seen that man.

I was transferred from L&D to a regular hospital room and Jimmy and my mom went with the baby to the nursery to see the bathing, weighing, etc.  The nurse got me into bed and then left.  I started to feel very light headed and nauseated.  I think my blood pressure went really low and I almost passed out.  It was scary, but only for a few minutes.  I remember turning on the TV to distract myself, so as not to add panic to the situation.  It was Regis and Kelly.  I love Regis and Kelly.  And I had a baby girl.  It was a beautiful morning.

Libby weighed 8 lbs. 14 oz. and had a huge head and big pink cheeks.  She also had a rash on her cheeks and her face was real puffy.  Sometimes newborns are not the most attractive creatures.  I remember thinking, “This is my sweet baby girl?”  She looked like she’d been through the wringer.  I was glad to have her out of me.  She got super cute super fast of course.

I remember watching Ronald Reagan’s funeral with my mom while I stayed in the hospital.  I asked my mom, “How does it feel to have someone named after you?” and then I realized Libby was named after me too.  I had already begun to think of her as Libby.  She was her own person and my baby girl and friend from day one.  I was hopeful she, myself, and my mom would have a special bond.  We do.


First World Problems

I'm barely hanging on here much of the time in these last few weeks of my pregnancy.  The physical limitations are starting to get to me.  When I watch other people get up and down off the ground I seriously wonder if I will ever be able to do that again.  When I think about wearing pants with a zipper and button it seems like a foreign concept.  Will I get there?  It's weird.

I have misplaced my grabber and this causes me to try first, before bending down, to pick up whatever it is with my foot.  Since the lower leg cramps of the final trimester have settled in, this isn't really the best idea.  Sometimes I just wander around looking for it, whining under my breath, grieving its absence.

To add chaos to mayhem around here, we have begun major construction on a third bathroom.  Not doing all the work ourselves; Jimmy is working alongside a handy man he has developed a relationship with through work.  This is exciting, but I must admit I feel very American (and thus spoiled) to be spending our hard earned and saved money to have a third bathroom.  But we will use and enjoy it.

I am attempting to start home school up tomorrow, feeling glad that the large amount of screen time in our house will decrease.  It is extremely sad yet hard to escape, the number of hours my kids are entertained.  I worry what this is doing to them long term.  There is no way to know.

We have been swimming a lot next door and so that is an extremely positive activity.  Although Penelope's hair has turned to straw because, do I have her rinse it out every time?  No!  Of course not!  The kids found a mole at the bottom of the pool last week which provided plenty of excitement.

All these are silly first world problems.  Home improvement projects, large amounts of television/internet entertainment, moles at the bottom of a beautiful pool...pregnancy in a country where I can rest in an air conditioned home on a soft bed...I cannot complain.  We have it good.  We are all happy, healthy, provided for by a loving God, and together.  We are a family, just trying to work it out one day at a time.  And somehow all this mundane will build memories for my children, even though it seems just that--so mundane.

I am so privileged to be a wife, a mother, to live in America.



Jackson's Birth Story

I thought I would use these weeks leading up to the birth of our sixth child to remember the birth stories of my other five...I wrote them all a little over two years ago...I will start with Jackson.

I took a home pregnancy test for the first time in January of 2001.  I remember closing the test in the bathroom and telling Jimmy he could not go in for five minutes.  Even though it said three to five minutes, I wanted to make sure we gave it plenty of time.  He barely made it to three.  Pushed me out of the way and announced to me that I was pregnant.  We were super excited.

I had already bought a “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” a few months after we got married.  Now I had a reason to read it.  We were always checking in our pregnancy books to see how big the baby was and what was developing.

 I had the typical first trimester nausea.  I have food issues (emetaphobia-- fear of vomit) and so I follow pretty strict guidelines.  I don’t eat spicy food or fatty food and rarely eat late at night.  But I was getting up at 12:30 a.m. and eating leftover mac and cheese from a box...the baby and my body were definitely calling the shots.  I remember loving really cold milk and eating a lot of cottage cheese with fruit on top.  It was actually nice to break away from my food rules.

 I had the typical first pregnancy growth curve.  I didn’t even need maternity clothes until about 24 weeks.  I could wear a t shirt and you couldn’t even tell I was pregnant until about 30 weeks.  I ran around like normal, I had no major issues.  I had the normal mild physical issues such as leg cramps, which were annoying, but with the perspective I have now, after five pregnancies, this was like pricking your finger.

 I started having Braxton Hicks contractions early.  At about 20 weeks.  At first this startled me, but then it just became part of my pregnancy and lots of contractions were my normal.  One good thing about it, I dialated early--I was 3 centimeters at 37 weeks.  I had an appointment on my due date and was 3-4 centimeters.  The baby was at plus 2 station.  My OB said, “I don’t know how you’re not walking around like a cowboy.”

There had been many contractions, but not regular or consistent.  My OB recommended inducing me because “At this point the conditions for the baby aren’t getting any better.”  This made sense to me and I was ready to get it going, but I was hoping for a natural delivery so I asked if we could just break my water and not use any drugs or other intervention.  He agreed.

I arrived at the hospital at 8 am on Wednesday, September 26th, and when the nurse hooked my belly up to the contraction monitor she said, “We might not have to do anything.  You’re having some pretty good contractions.”  But again, not consistent and they broke my water at 10:30 am.

I walked around, I sat on the birthing ball, sat in a rocking chair, visited friends in the waiting room, played scrabble, and was pretty bored.  I was having regular contractions but they were totally do-able.  Intense at the peak, but I could handle it.  As the day went on I did have to concentrate more and more.

I decided to get in the shower at 2 something.  I was about 5 centimeters dialated.  It felt good.  Things started to get intense and I couldn’t talk through my contractions at all.  Jimmy and my parents were hanging out in the L&D room and I thought maybe I needed to get out of the shower, to sit down!  I couldn’t really expend any energy to yell enough to be heard, so I knocked on the door that led out of the bathroom into the L&D room.  I heard I think my mom say, “Someone is at the door."  Then I heard Jimmy open the door to the hallway and say, "Nope, no one's there."  I wanted to scream "It's me!" But again, couldn't. 

 I’m freaking out a little.  I am bracing myself through another contraction and when it is over I knock again.  Success.  Jimmy came to the door.  I was in the middle of another one.  I couldn’t explain myself so I held up my finger, to signal, “Wait just a minute.”  He took this as me not being ready to get out and left.  I hear him tell my parents, “She’s not ready to get out yet.”  I knock again and this time when he comes to the door I say, “I want to get out!!!” in a voice you can only use when you’re in labor.

 I get out and get into the bed and I’m at 7 cm.  It had only been a few minutes in the shower.  Then things really got intense.  All of a sudden I had NO break between contractions.  I remember thrashing back and forth, unable to deal with the pain.  I called out for medication.  It was too late.  A nurse said to me, “This is when you want to breathe.”  That helped.  I hadn’t needed anything from birthing class yet.  It had been easy so far.  I was finally experiencing LABOR.  My body was working like crazy.

 I had asked my mom to help me during labor, but she took the initiative to say, “I won’t plan on being there for the actual birth; that is special between you and Jimmy.”  That was fine, I didn’t really care, as long as she was nearby.  My mom had told me that if you can relax and not work against what your body is trying to do, that things will go more quickly. I don’t know if I thought about that advice in those last moments, but all of a sudden I felt the need to push.  It had only been 30 minutes since I was 7 cm.  The nurse checked and I was fully dialated, so I went for it.  Jimmy grabbed one leg and my mom grabbed my leg and I begged her to stay and help me.  She agreed.  She had not been present at a birth since she gave birth to me.

I pushed for less than 30 minutes and at 3:30 pm my baby was on my chest.  It was of course, the most wonderful feeling and biggest accomplishment in my life.  I had been given an episitomy by the doctor on call (the midwife I’d been working with was with another patient who was delivering at the exact same time) but he literally caught the baby and then left.  I remember the midwife was back--holding the umbilical cord like a jump rope, just looking at me and smiling.  I asked her if I should push (for the afterbirth/placenta) and she said, “No, it will come out.” and sure enough it slid right out and I remember it felt WONDERFUL.  Warm and soothing and relieving somehow.

I was able to nurse Jackson right away and that was weird and overwhelming but of course a great feeling.  After I was stitched up and propped up and cleaned up we allowed our friends from the waiting room to come see us and the baby.  I remember at this point I was on a major hormonal high and I told my friends, “You should do it!  You should have a baby!  It’s not that bad!  It’s great!”  And they were all laughing at me and looking at me like I was crazy.  I had just gone through a lot of pain and a big head came out of a small space as far as they were concerned.  But I was trying to convince them to do the same.  About a month later, two of my best friends were pregnant.  They and their husbands had been in the room when I said all that.  It was exciting.  I felt like maybe I had been an inspiration.  At least I wanted to think so.

The hospital stay was typical and uneventful, which is good.  I was trying my best with nursing but it HURT.  Finally the second morning I had a nurse, an older woman, who was small in size but big in personality.  She said, “You need more pillows!  Get that baby up to your breast!  I’m bringing you more pillows and a rocking chair!”  And she did just that and really helped me adopt a go get ‘em attitude when it came to breastfeeding.

I remember the morning we left.  They took Jackson to the nursery for some reason and we were all packed and ready.  When he came back, we were going home.  Jimmy got out the video camera and turned it on me.  I was lying on my side on the bed.  He asked me how I was feeling.  I remember telling him I felt like it was the calm before the storm.  That our lives were about to change in a big way.  That things were never going to be the same.

It was true.  Little did I know we’d do it five times.  And it has been an amazing and beautiful storm.


Some Guy's Hero

Jimmy and the boys are away for the weekend (a trip to Orlando for a yo-yo contest to celebrate Jackson's 13th birthday early) and so it's me and the girls again.

We are enjoying a quieter house, a cleaner house, and each other. 

Tonight I took the girls to get a sandwich at Firehouse, not feeling too guilty because I had a gift card and I also made them eat a handful of baby carrots before we left.  Vegetables, check.  Not spending any money, check.  Firehouse, yum.

While we were waiting for our food a man waiting for his take out order sat in the table close to ours.  When I came back with the girls waters he said, "Wow, you're brave.  Taking 3 kids out by yourself.  I only have two and I don't take them anywhere by myself."

Instead of just smiling and nodding I decided to tell him the truth.

"Actually, I have two more, so this is like a party.  My husband has the boys."

And then you wait for the reaction.  (Because as if this wasn't enough, my pregnant belly gives away we are not finished yet.)

"Wow, 5 kids!  You're amazing.  I'm just out getting food, doing what I'm told, hiding from everything."

So I told him the truth again.  "I hide a lot."

And then we went on with our meal and a couple minutes later his order was ready and he started to leave.  He had been sitting so close I felt like I should say something.  "See you later.  Have a good night."

As he opened the door he shook his head and said, "You're my hero."

And then he was gone.  Here I am, sitting at Firehouse, right below a huge mural of a firefighter saving a child from a fire, and this guy told me I was his hero.  I have to admit it felt pretty darn good.  Because if a hero is someone you look up to and want to be like, I don't know that anyone would want to be like me these days.  I am now in the last two months of my pregnancy and am feeling all that entails.  Not only the physical challenges (turning over at night is quite the process) but the mental and social hurdles my pregnant brain must overcome are assaulting me at every turn.  I drop things, forget things, am unintentionally rude to people...

I guess what I mean is, I'm not exactly feeling heroic.

But this guy said I was his hero, so I'm gonna take it.  Thanks, buddy.  Enjoy your sub.  But maybe evaluate choosing a pregnant lady as your hero...it's a little weird.