As opposed to something completely different.
I want t get the Reepicheep's birth story written before I completely lose my mind to the swirling whirling dervish of hormones. It's a delightful journey; slightly maddening at times, but otherwise quite enjoyable. At least, it's becoming so, thanks be to God. With this one, there have been many moments when I have questioned whether that would ever be the case.
We began learning NFP when the Pickle was about 10 months old. God had really been working on our hearts, and had been putting us in places at times with people so that finally we began truly seeing Him at work. Man, was that awesome! It's so obvious to us at this point that I almost think we've become spoiled--we're nearly "used to" seeing the effect of His hand guiding us. At any rate, we began with the sympto-thermal method, and started charting immediately. It was also right about that time that we began praying on when we wanted to welcome another child into our family. We knew that we wanted them close together, and since the Frog was 25 months older than the Pickle, we knew that that particular age gap worked very well for us.
When the Pickle was 11 months old, we were looking over our chart and saw that the timing of my cycle was exactly right for us to try. We tried, we succeeded, and we began our journey to the Reepicheep!
The test (unnecessary, as we had waited 20 days and watched my higher temperature remain elevated--and so we knew we had conceived!) showed that we were indeed pregnant, and the Nausea Bug and his friend, Major Pukey, began their assaults about three weeks later. I remember two things vividly. First, there was the part where owing to a humongous bedroom in that apartment, our bed was about 50 feet from the place I really needed to be when I was in the middle of being slapped by the Major. This necessitated the use of a traveling bowl, with which I literally crawled from the bed to the bathroom. I pushed the bowl on the carpet right in front of me, and sometimes technically didn't really need to make it into the bathroom, except to dump and rinse the bowl.
The second thing that I remember is that at exactly 13 weeks and one day, the Nausea Bug packed his meager belongings and vacated the premises. And ever after, I felt fantastic! My sister and niece came to visit us in October that year, and I even have video of a late afternoon that we spent laughing riotously at the antics of my niece D and the Pickle, who were only 6 months apart in age (she having freshly turned one, and he being 19 months old), being goofy toddlers together. I continued to cantor through the third trimester, having no difficulty at all catching my breath. I walked a lot, spent time with family and friends, and felt generally great.
I loved that pregnancy so much that it made me want to have 12 children--but only if all of them were that easy!
Now, there was a little bump in the road. First off, my doctor (Doctor Pompous, who had attended the deliveries of both the Frog and the Pickle) began to seriously irritate me. The short of the long is that all through high school, I was a skinny-minny. I could not gain weight to save my life, let alone anyone else's. I ate like a trencherman, and I was active as all get-out, and I really just plain had a high metabolism. Please do not think that this meant I was blessed; far from it: I was teased mercilessly. One of my dearest friends in high school was rather overweight, and the two of us together must have received about 90% of the teasing from the entire student body (no pun intended)...no kidding. For me, it was just always that way. Except for my endometriosis, I was also generally a healthy person (not counting mono during my senior year). Beginning with very serious morning sickness (I think they call it hyperemesis gravidarium) with the Frog, and then also with the Pickle, I weighed a mere 127 pounds the night before I delivered the Frog. This is FANTASTIC, considering that at 20 weeks I weighed about 97 pounds because I literally kept nothing in me, due to the battles with the Major. It was awful. There were even occasions when I would lose the fluid being pushed in intravenously, for Pete's sake.
So at 20 weeks with the Reepicheep, I had already gained 15 pounds--a new record!--Dr. Pompous was not happy. He who had harped on me through my first two pregnancies for not gaining enough weight, who knew my history, who saw my struggles with the Bug and the Major, insisted that I had not gained enough! Can you even imagine??? I certainly couldn't.
He actually first "accused" me of having an eating disorder ("I don't want you to be another Karen Carpenter..."--he really said this!), and then he sent me to a dietitian. After looking over my history and the food diary that I had brought in with me, she couldn't figure out why I was there. In the background, Dr. Pompous (family doctor, you know) had also insisted that the Pickle was not growing the way he should be. News flash: if your child begins on the small side (but on the chart nonetheless) and grows along with the curve for his beginning size, he's probably okay. Also, using words that only Mama can understand (about 75%, anyway) and walking beginning at 14 months does not necessarily mean that he is developmentally delayed. It might just mean that he is a boy, and that he has an older sister who talks for him. But not in the Know-It-All-Eyes of Dr. Pompous! No, he sent us on a worthless visit to a pediatric specialist. He also could not figure out what the fuss was all about. After analyzing the hormonal output in the Pickle's pee, he said everything was absolutely normal. We might just have a smallish boy. NO!!!! To this day, he's a lightweight, but he's certainly healthy.
But I just couldn't take it anymore. I switched doctors. At 7 months pregnant, I entered a different practice (in the same hospital system) and began care under Dr. Wonderful! She was so different, it was like night and day. She was all about taking the time to listen, not make a person feel like an idiot, looking for alternative treatments for things when drugs were not warranted (YES! There are some doctors who will actually do this!), and refusing to become alarmed at things that were actually, well, normal.
There was a little discrepancy with my due date. Because we had charted, we knew when conception had occurred. Dr. Pompous had refused to hear me out on this one, telling me that just because some women think they have longer cycles sometimes doesn't mean that they do. (It does, actually, but not according to the Know-It-All-Mind of Dr. Pompous.) So his charted due date read December 14th, which was loosely according to my LMP. My charted due date, according to ovulation, for Pete's sake, was closer to November 25th. That's a big difference when you're talking about lungs and things. For the sake of being official, Dr. Wonderful went with the date recorded by Dr. Pompous in my medical chart, and kept the other date at hand as well for comparison.
I figured I was closer to being right on the date, when in the middle of November, my Grandma said to me, "Are you sure you're due in December? That baby looks awfully low....."
And so, on a particular Monday evening in late November, while I relaxed in the bathtub, I felt The Pop. My body had not been anywhere near as uncooperative as it had through the last two pregnancies (read: no bed rest because of the illicit preterm activities of my belly!), so I figured this was probably Really It.
I had learned with the Pickle that a precipitous labor with one baby does not always predict precipitous labor with the others (Remember? 3 hours, 43 minutes for the Frog, and 13 hours for the Pickle.), and so I figured I'd stick around home as long as I could. I wanted a nap, I wanted to eat, and we were only 7 blocks away from the hospital. (We moved from one apartment to the next when the Pickle was 1 month old, with a two month rest stop at my Grandma's....another story.) I finished my bath, had a delicious supper, and headed to bed for a nice, long nap.
I had one contraction. One. Weak. Ineffective. Contraction.
It got to be about 10:00, and I thought, "Well, I should call, I suppose." So I did. Ah, if I'd only have known what I know now.
Of course, the nurse that I spoke with said, "You'd better come in right away. You know, you're supposed to come in immediately if your water breaks." Her tone said, "You have absolutely no regard for the health of your baby, you ignorant peasant!"
So we called my dad to come over and sleep on the couch, and in we went. I was hooked up to the monitors, my vitals were taken, I was checked for dilation (and found to be the same 3 cm I'd been for a month), they used nitrizine paper to confirm that I was leaking amniotic fluid and not something else, and then we turned out the lights and attempted to sleep. I had refused an IV, because I wasn't dehydrated and had no intention of becoming so, and had already decided that I didn't want any medications again. Of course, things don't always go the way we plan.
The attempt at sleep was typical for a night in the hospital. My Darling slept very well, thankyouverymuch, on the comfortable pull-out sleeper sofa. I, on the other hand, was the usual guinea pig for the night-shift nurses. Every hour they had to hook me up for monitoring and vitals, which meant that the cold jelly splooshed onto my belly to check Reepicheep's heart rate, and the blood pressure machine strangled all traces of life from my arm. The entire night, my blood pressure was textbook-perfect, and I had not even one contraction.
It got to be about 6:00 AM on Tuesday, and Dr. Wonderful made an appearance. She's a farm girl, who cares for her horses and various other livestock before coming in for rounds and clinic, so I saw absolutely none of the attitude that Dr. Pompous had thrown at me (for daring to birth my babies on his day off!). She said, "Well....if you hadn't come in, I'd say, 'Let's just wait it out and see what happens.' But you're here, and there are policies [which I knew full well....rats....], and your body is doing absolutely nothing, and I can't let you eat until the baby is here, so how do you feel about pitocin?" I cried. I think she may have, too. But I knew she was right; it was either pitocin or a policy-forced C-section at the 11th hour (or in this case, the 23rd hour).
She was kind enough to wait on the order until I had showered, and My Darling had gotten something to eat down the hall. When I came out of the bathroom, I was hooked up to an IV drip and a monitor. Having never labored under these circumstances, it felt absolutely wrong to have to sit in the bed. The contractions started with a bang. They were hard and painful and unrelenting. I felt wildly out of control, which was completely new to me--even with the fast labor for the Frog, I had never felt this way. It was intense and frightening and overwhelming, with no opportunity to blow away the last contraction before the next one began. I started to hyperventilate because I couldn't catch my breath long enough to take a deep one. I was put on oxygen, and a nurse brought in a syringe full of something which was injected into my IV to "take the edge off." It didn't help; it just made me not care. It made it so that when I rolled from my back to my side, the lights on the ceiling tracked all blurry in my vision, as though I were drunk. It made it so that when Reep's heart rate crashed in that position, I didn't care, as they encouraged me to roll to the other side. Her heart rate stabilized.
It made me not care that My Darling, God bless his heart, was doing everything he could think of to help me...and it made me not care that he was as terrified as I was.
It made it so that I barely registered that Dr. Wonderful had finally come back, which must have meant that It Was Time.
It made it so that when my body and the monitor and my doctor encouraged me to push, I didn't want to.
But I did anyway. I pushed and pushed and pushed. I don't even know how long I had pushed, but I vaguely remember Dr. Wonderful supporting my body (rather than my needing stitches afterward) and saying, "We might need the vacuum on this one; she's just not bringing the baby down." Now THAT got my attention. I pushed one more time, and her head came. I pushed once more, and her body was out.
She was little and pink and perfect and clean (no vernix--which meant that--*surprise!*--my date was the correct one). My Darling and I had not wanted to know if this baby was a boy or a girl, and when our baby was born, HE was the one who told me, "We have a little girl!" She was born at 9:23 AM (not quite three hours, for those of you playing at home) and weighed in at a petite 6 pounds even.
The rest I remember clearly, but only because it's on video. The medication I had been given left me woozy, and the incredible intensity of my pitocin-induced labor left me so exhausted I could barely speak. They had also left Reepichep needing to have oxygen blown at her for a few minutes before she got the hang of breathing with those newfangled lung thingies.
I was out of the bed about an hour after the Reepicheep was born. I took a shower, had a lovely breakfast, and began really falling in love with our third baby.
On an interesting side note: You know how lots of parents ask their older children, "What shall we name the baby?" Well, we asked, and the Frog had long insisted that if the baby was a boy, we'd name him "Fourteen Plus Nine," and if the baby was a girl, we'd name her "Ten O'clock."
Reepicheep was born at nearly 10:00 on the 23rd...which is, of course, what fourteen and nine add up to be.