When Penelope turned one, I felt relieved. I had made it to my baby’s first birthday without getting pregnant again. Maybe we had this thing down. After four children, I think I’ve figured it out. I was so sad that Penelope was getting older. I wanted my baby to stay a baby! I wanted that feeling that I heard other mothers talking about. How they were “done.” I didn’t feel done.
But would I ever feel that way? Even if I kept having children? I wasn’t sure. I had two boys and two girls. I should quit while I’m ahead, right? I just wasn’t sure. I was sure I wanted a little space this time though. But when Penelope turned 2, I decided to be open to having another.
I found out I was pregnant in May of 2010. Penelope was 2 and a half. I was excited. Usually my nausea waits until about the 6th week. Not this time. It started earlier. Before I even took the test some of my food aversions had set in. We went camping with some friends just a few days after I had found out. Even though they were some of my closest friends, it was really early and I wasn’t telling anyone. Plus, I didn’t want that to be the topic of conversation. I was just getting used to the idea myself.
I was miserable. Hormonal, nauseated, tired, hungry, and the cycle would repeat. I will never forget it. I was trying to have a good time but my body (and newly informed mind) was totally focused on something else. It was a fun trip, though, and on Mother’s Day weekend!
When it was time to tell people, I was most concerned about my mom. She had seen the strain having four young children was for me. She knew we weren’t extremely stable financially. She was always telling me to eat more or go to bed early and other motherly things like that. I decided I needed to let her know. I was afraid of a negative reaction. Not that she wouldn’t be thrilled to have another grandchild, but just that her initial reaction might hurt my feelings.
So one afternoon while I was talking to her I decided to do it. I was telling her funny things about the kids (I remember I had locked them outside with popsicles and they were done and banging on the door) and after we talked about 15 minutes I said, “Mom, I need to tell you something. I’m pregnant. So why don’t you just think about that?!” And I hung up, without giving her any time to respond. That way I saved her of having to give any reaction without time to think about it.
She called later (much later) that day and voiced mild concerns but was of course elated and also glad for time to think about it and get excited before she had to react. I told her that the baby was very much planned and wanted.
Late in May Jimmy and I went on a trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. My mom kept our four kids and while I was disappointed that the trip was somewhat tainted by nausea and sheer exhaustion, I was thankful that for five days I could rest whenever I wanted, eat whenever I wanted, and not have to chase any children around ever at all. It got me through the 8th week of my pregnancy.
I was determined from the beginning to pray and aim for a totally natural delivery with no intervention. That had been my easiest labor and I figured since this was probably my last, I wanted to go out on a high note. I thought about it a lot. And of course I also thought a lot about the sex of the baby. I wanted another girl. Three boys and two girls seemed like a lot. But three girls and two boys seemed doable.
Because of getting insurance squared away (and because I wasn’t really in a hurry to start the inconvenience of Dr. visits) I didn’t go to the doctor for the first time until I was 16 weeks along. They wanted to do the blood work that comes about that time, so I had to have an ultrasound to measure the baby and confirm my due date. Even though she didn’t have to, I asked the tech if she could check the sex of the baby.
I was alone, there was no fanfare (I didn’t expect to do it that day) but I felt no need to wait for my husband to be with me (or any of the other kids). I wanted to know ASAP! She was nice. She checked. GIRL! It was an awesome day. I was extremely excited. We all were. It had been three against three in our family and now the girls would win.
The name search began. I had already considered Juliette. (In the hospital after she was born we decided on spelling it Juliet.) I am the youngest of three girls, and this baby would be too. So it was fitting her name should be so close to mine. Everyone in our family has a J initial for either their first or middle name. I wanted this baby to actually go by a “J” name, because only Jackson uses the J name to go by. I looked through the J names and there just weren’t that many that appealed to me. Juliette could be like my junior.
The middle name was more difficult. We had a very hard time with it but came up with a short list, which I printed out and placed in my hospital bag. I didn’t want to be unprepared. I was very nervous about making an emotional, hormonal, post partem decision when it came to names. That is why I had always picked them out well in advance.
My swollen veins were back and absolutely terrible. It started extremely early, at about 16 weeks. My nausea had finally ceased, but I had gained a lot during the first trimester. I always felt much better if I ate, but even more so this time. My weight gain was also more because of the circulation issues; I felt better in that respect if I sat or lied down and elevated my feet. I tried to swim whenever I could but getting away from four kids and fitting it inside our schedule and the pool hours was not easy.
To put it plainly, I was miserable. The bulging veins in the back of my legs and ankles would get better at night, because my circulation didn’t have gravity working against it. But when I would get out of bed in the morning and stand in the kitchen to make breakfast for the kids, my veins would pool with blood and it was extremely painful. I dreaded getting out of bed and standing up in the morning.
At a checkup when I was in my 30th week of pregnancy, I asked the doctor to see if the baby’s head was down. He discovered that the baby was breech. I was extremely surprised. This had never happened to me before. I immediately started praying the baby would turn. I did not want to end up with a c-section, which I knew was more likely now. I researched and learned that the more babies you have, the more stretched out your uterus is and it’s easier for the baby to turn around.
At every visit we kept checking to see if the baby had turned. She did not. I had read about lying upside down, playing music near the bottom of my uterus, but it all seemed like a crock. My doctor agreed. He said that if she hadn’t turned by 36 weeks, he could try and turn her himself, by pushing on my belly. I was all for it. I trusted him, and I really wanted a normal vaginal delivery.
When she was still breech at 36 weeks, he scheduled me for a version, to try and turn her. I would have to go into triage, be admitted to the hospital, and given medication to relax my uterus, and he would use his hands and an ultrasound machine to try and get her head down. I was nervous about this, but hopeful. He said it worked for him much of the time.
The night before, I was sitting on the couch (with my feet up of course) watching TV. All of a sudden I felt a large movement, and something else weird I can’t articulate. I thought maybe she turned! I felt for her head (I had learned to find it at the top of my uterus) and I couldn’t find it. Again I tried to find it when I woke up and I couldn’t. I was hopeful, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. I thought it was wishful thinking.
My husband and I got to the hospital early and went through the process. But I told the nurse that I thought maybe I felt her turn, so my doctor checked before they gave me the medication. I felt a little foolish, like I was asking too much. She hadn’t turned in six weeks, why the night before? But to my relief and somewhat surprise, she was now head down. It was an awesome day. My baby was in position. I had asked many to pray for this!
Originally my due date had been January 5th, but based on the ultrasound and size of the baby my date had been moved up to December 31st. So in my mind, I wasn’t hopeful for a delivery any time before the first week of January. I was determined to not intervene, if at all possible.
The last weeks of my pregnancy were awful. I was carrying a lot of baby and extra weight gain. My vein issues were so painful I couldn’t really go anywhere for any length of time. I couldn’t stand up during the singing at church, and my ankles and feet began to swell to a terrible size. I had never really had issues with fat ankles but I understood it now firsthand.
On the night of December 30th, we went out somewhere. I can’t remember where, but I do remember that after we got home, we put the kids to bed and then I put on comfortable clothes and made my way to the recliner to put my feet up. I lifted up my shirt to scratch my belly and said to myself, after looking at the spectacle that I was, “I’m not going out in public again until I go to the hospital to have this baby.” I had hit my limit. I was done.
I woke up at 5:30 am early the next morning to go to the bathroom and when I stood up I felt a gush of fluid come out. This was it. Right? My water had never broken ahead of time before. I didn’t know what to do, but I felt I should go and get checked out. We called a friend to come sit with the kids. We called my mom and she set things in motion to come. I swept the floors while we waited for my friend to get there. Jimmy was just staring at me. He asked me how I felt. I said, “Well, I’m not having any contractions.” This should have been my clue to sit tight for a couple hours and see what was going on. But like I said, my water had never broken before, so I didn’t really know what to do. Plus, I’d been having a lot of pre labor, so I was hopeful things would get moving quickly.
We went to triage and I wasn’t really having any major contractions in the waiting room. They did a strip test and it looked like I wasn’t leaking amniotic fluid. I might be going home. But then they did another strip test (I think it was something different) and it did show that I was leaking amniotic fluid. I had been prepared to go home and let things happen in their own time. Now, if I chose to go home it would be against medical advice and I didn’t really think I wanted to go down that road.
Plus, it was December 31st. We could have our baby on New Year’s Eve. She’d have a cool birthday and we’d make the tax break. So I geared up for the day. I was having some contractions, so I was hopeful.
Things didn’t move quickly at all. I was not having the delivery I wanted. I can’t remember exactly how it all played out, but I was encouraged by the Dr. on call to have pitocin to start things going. Now I wondered: Should I have an epidural again? Even though I had hated it so much? I decided to do it. I was having to be flexible. I was leaking fluid, and didn’t want my baby to be low on it, so I went for it.
I feel now that I was pushed a little to just do it in a way that was convenient for the hospital staff. I even remember the Dr. saying, “Let’s just get you an epidural, give you the 'pit', and get the baby out.” She was really nice about it, but I felt like it was like she was saying, “You just lie here and don’t move and I’ll keep track of your contractions on the monitor, and we’ll get the baby out today.” I felt like I was taken out of the equation.
Not really though. This time the epidural was as it should be and I could actually feel enough to know when I was having contractions. I had to be given way more pitocin than I was comfortable with, but eventually it began working and labor picked up. I actually knew when I was in transition and knew when I needed to push and was able to be fully involved in the birth. It was, of course, wonderful. She was amazing and I was glad to be done. She was born at 7:11 p.m. on New Years Eve. I had not called my Dr. (even though he had told me I could call him for delivery) because I hated to bother him on New Year’s Eve. He told me he wished I had called him. I wished I had too.
After the birth, I was wasted. I was hungry. I was tired. It had been 24 hours since I'd had anything to eat. At about 10 p.m. when it was time to be moved to a regular room, everything came crashing down. I did not think I could get out of bed and into the wheelchair without passing out or throwing up or both. I’m pretty sure my blood pressure had dropped and it was as if my body just couldn’t recover from such an ordeal. I did make it, but felt extremely overwhelmed and alone in those moments.
I feel like now, looking back, that my body was made to do something in just a few hours that it may have taken days to do on it’s own. With the pitocin, it is like you are fast forwarding labor, and that is extremely hard on your body. During transition labor I felt very out of control. I wish I had been able to wait, but I am not bitter or angry at anyone. Looking back, I’m not sure what I would have done differently. If I had stayed home even though I was leaking fluid, I would have been worried and anxious that I was making a dangerous choice for my baby.
The ending of my hellish pregnancy was over though and I had a beautiful baby girl. My husband and I rang in the new year by turning out all the lights and going to bed at 11:45 p.m., me holding my newbie on my chest. It was an amazing way to bring in 2011.
For the middle name we tossed around Eve, since she was born on New Years Eve. I think that was Jimmy’s first choice. But I didn’t really think she needed the birthday AND the name.
So in the middle of the night of the second night, I had some sort of spiritual experience (I can’t really remember, probably just prayer and a feeling) and decided that I thought her name should be Juliet Hope. Because one of my favorite passages of scripture is Romans 5:1-5:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
I had been through quite the suffering because of the painful pregnancy. Yet, this being my fifth, I knew and had hope that the ending would not be disappointing. That I just needed to persevere and boast in the hope of the Glory of God, which is revealed to me never as greatly in my life as when I am experiencing the birth of my children. So she was Juliet Hope. And she would never disappoint. It was worth it and I would do it all again.