So I suppose it is time for the Internet revelation that I spent the last nine months growing my fourth (and final) baby. Though Isaiah is only twenty-months old, this was a fully planned event, all the way down to attempting gender specificity (didn’t work) and giving birth in the month of the Leo (nailed it). To all my conservative Christian friends, forgive me. I’ve not gone off the deep end of astrological worship, but in the last seven years, I’ve been taking notes of the alignment of the stars and the personalities of each of my children.
John and Isaiah are both Sagittarians. They are my two favorite men in the world. I am a Leo. A very high percentage of my closest personal female (and male) friends are also Leos. I just thought, if we could help it, why not aim to provide a final child who might have the potential to get along swimmingly with both her brother and her mother?
She was due on August twenty-fourth (tomorrow), which is technically Virgo territory. The babe came, on her own, a week early.
I love her for that.
I’m not big on telling birth stories. This is mostly due to the fact that I don’t personally find those of others terribly interesting, and so I assume the same about other people listening to mine. (If you’ve ever torn your ACL, you understand exactly what I’m talking about.)
That said, it might be helpful one day when all the hormones and sleep deprivation wear off, if I have a small record of how things went. After all, when you ask me how big each of my kids were and what day of the week they were born on, I have to dig out the hospital paperwork I never scrapbooked to remember.
I’ll try to keep things short and sweet.
Since last November, I haven’t been posting pregnant selfies or giving weekly updates, so here is everything you missed: pregnancy sucks. Always. Every minute of it. All four of mine were about the same for misery-inducing side effects, though this one was by far the worst for general day-to-day discomfort. In addition to the usual sixteen weeks of morning sickness, six months of acid reflux, and hip and back pain requiring bi-weekly chiropractor appointments just to be able to walk, this pregnancy came with a few extras.
I narrowly survived three (3) stomach viruses which left me exactly seven pounds lighter each time. I experienced a subchorionic hemorrhage (on Eliott’s birthday) in the middle of the grocery store parking lot and thought I was having a miscarriage. I was diagnosed very early on with prenatal depression and put on a low dose of Zoloft, which comes with its own awesome side effects including headaches and restless leg syndrome. My iron was so low at one point I began to experience ocular migraines once or twice a day.
Self induced complications of course include the full time care for three (3) other children, buying a new house and moving, sending (allowing) my husband on an eight day vacation, and living in another state from any and all family members.
That’s the bad.
The good is this. We are a ridiculously spoiled and blessed family, most of which I should probably blame on my husband and how much people seem to like him. It seems that in the worst of things, every time, one friend or another arrived out of nowhere to take our children to Chuck E. Cheese, provide a hot meal on a random Tuesday night, or come over and think nothing of exposure to Noro virus (and say nothing about my DSS disaster of a house) to feed, change, and put my toddler down for a nap while I was passed out on a couch moaning for my mother. Oh yes, and that one also made me toast.
Did I mention spoiled? And blessed?
Last Sunday morning I woke up, showered, and actually got dressed for coffee-duty at church. Nine out of ten people commented that morning about “it” still “being there” and how much longer did I have. (I guess when it appears you’ve shoved a basketball under your dress and are walking around like it’s normal, it is difficult not to comment on the thing.) To almost everyone I replied, “Technically another week, but probably tonight,” just to be sassy.
In all my previous pregnancies I’ve never experienced normal contractions. My water has broken, but I have no idea how contractions outside of the hospital work because I’ve always been put on Pitocin to induce them. At 2:00pm I was having the kind of pains that I’ve read about, but had to text two friends and ask, “How do you know when contractions are real?”
I laid down on my right side for an hour, and when they persisted (coming very slowly and weakly) I packed a bag and told John, “I think we might be going to the hospital soon. The Internet says this is called pre-labor and it could last a week or it could last a couple hours. I’m not going to call my parents just yet, but I’ll text Linda (the one ready to watch our other kids) and tell her to be on alert.”
Then I went out and watered the garden, started some laundry, and came back inside and sat on an exercise ball.
Within ten minutes, the little cramps that had been coming (mildly) about twice an hour suddenly started to come with full force and about every five minutes.
I called my parents. I texted Linda. I ordered pizza. I braced myself against the wall, and told John there was no difference between Pitocin contractions and “normal” ones, and we got in the car and went to the hospital.
Before even giving the nurse my name I ordered an epidural. (I know how these things work and if you don’t get on that ice-cream man’s list good and early it could take a full two hours to get him in your room.)
Epidural kicked in just enough to take the edge off so naturally I turned on Food Network and chilled out a bit. My doctor showed up and broke my water at about seven-thirty, and then the epidural sort of wore off. To men, they say contractions (or giving birth) feels like pulling your lower lip over your head or something dumb like that.
I’ll tell you what it actually feels like. It feels like a steam roller is crushing you from the bottom of your ribs to the top of your knees. It is like the worst bowel movement cramps you’ve ever had times fifty, but instead of just going, and relieving them, they last a minute to two minutes at a time and they keep coming.
For a moment I became the screaming and cursing woman I had just made fun of an hour earlier.
Then suddenly it was time to push.
“No. No pushing,” I said. “I need more drugs. Trust me. I can feel this. I shouldn’t be feeling this. I’m an American.”
The nurse ignored me. It was time to push.
I did so exactly once. She came out at 8:30 (or so).
8 pounds. 5 ounces. Head full of hair. Dark skin like Eliott, super long skinny body like Carter, and after two short shrieks, just as silent and pensive as Isaiah.
Because of my bleeding complications in post-birth with Isaiah and possible scar-tissue as a result, it was actually harder to get the placenta out than the baby. That was another forty-five minutes of pure hell, during which I once again vowed that in the moment I arrive in Heaven my first order of business will be punching Eve right in the face.
(All this for a -pardon the appropriate use of the expletive- God-damned apple?)
But now she’s home. We are home.
And we’re thriving.
Like the rest of my kids, she eats a lot and sleeps a lot and is proving to fall right into her place in line. Each baby was easier than the one who came before it, and so far Avery is no exception.
For the girls, a new baby is very much like getting a new puppy they can’t pet as often as they want, but both are being extremely helpful and motherly. Isaiah is completely smitten and I can already tell he’s going to continue to prove himself as the most-perfect boy who ever existed in my life.