Things here are going swimmingly. It's hot.....blasted hot, as Fr. Tim would say if we were in Mitford. We finally broke down and picked up the air conditioners on Sunday (they're stored at the shop). Truth be told, I implored My Darling on Wednesday of last week to bring them home as the mercury hovered around the mid-90's, but he had so much going on that he just plain forgot. Thursday, he took the Pickle with him to work so that they could go to Mass together, and then again, he forgot. Friday he took the day off because he and the Pickle had a guys camping trip with their Father-Son group, so there was no chance until after Mass on Sunday. By that time, I was certain that my brain was at least well-done, and perhaps a little charred on one side, like a steak that had been set off to the side of the grill and forgotten. My Darling put the units in, one in the living room and one in our bedroom, and turned them on, and nearly immediately I began feeling like myself again, thanks be to God.
The fans are still doing their part as well, moving the air so well that the rest of the house receives benefit of the air conditioners, too.
Reepicheep has taught herself to rollerblade; apparently the romance of the new bike has worn off, and she wants to see how many more bandaids she can apply this summer.
Pickle and Monkey are playing Guy Stuff together (read: Legos and trains) on a nearly constant basis, retreating to the relative cool of their bedroom in the heat of the day.
Frog gets prettier and taller as the days get shorter, making me wonder where that particular train will ever stop. She has finally reached my height of 5'5" at 12 years old.....it's slightly disturbing. We're awfully glad we homeschool.........
So I wrote about the Frog's birth story here, and now it's time for the Pickle.
Pickle was our early wedding gift to each other, you could say. Before our hearts were fully converted to God and His plan for our life, we were practically living in sin without actually cohabitating. It's certainly no secret; if you do the math, you'll come to the conclusion that since we were married in August of 1997, and Pickle was born in April of 1998, there could be just the slightest discrepancy there. I do, however, take comfort in the knowledge that by July (of '97), we were deep in the throes of wedding planning, for Pete's sake, so it's not as though it was a shotgun wedding by any stretch.
I also take great comfort in frequent confession. ;)
The beginning of my pregnancy with the Pickle was a very difficult time in our family. In July, my niece had been born into the arms of her Mama, my sister J, way too early, way too small, and already sleeping with Jesus. Thankfully, blessedly, J had a good priest who correctly counseled her to fully mourn her loss, including a full funeral Mass. Now, I certainly don't pretend that this made everything all better for my sister, but I do know that it was a good start to healing for many of us who shared even a small part in the loss of such a loved and wanted baby.
When we found out that the Pickle was on the way, it was about three days before our wedding. I had an inkling, with the way I was feeling, that something was going on, and when it was confirmed, it was a bit bittersweet. For one thing, we were not ready to welcome a child into our marriage, for Pete's sake. Had we known better, had we been taught, had we been better counseled, we would have been taking NFP classes. Our faith and our marriage would have benefited much earlier...but I digress. Thankfully, we do know better now, and through the marriage preparation ministry in our diocese, we are able to share with young, starry-eyed engaged couples our experiences, and hopefully they can benefit from what we have to say.
Another contributing factor in my pregnancy with the Pickle was what some people would call "survivor's guilt." I was feeling horribly guilty that I had already been blessed with one child unexpectedly (and I use that term lightly--unexpected implies something that you truly didn't expect--and when one engages in intimate activities with another, a new life should most certainly be expected each and every time, for Pete's sake! A word to the wise: if you are not ready to be a parent, then don't participate in the one activity that could very well make you one.), and was now the recipient of another unexpected blessing...and here was my sister, grieving the loss of a child for whom she had prayed, and whom she and her husband had tried unsuccessfully to conceive for nearly a year. Guilt is, perhaps, a feeble word for what I truly felt at the time.
Besides all that, we were newly married and I was horribly sick, yet again. The Nausea Bug and Major Pukey had held onto my address, knowing that I was a weak opponent in battle. Yet again, I was faced with an irritable uterus, tired from heaving so constantly, and a little too eager to be done.
Without too much more detail, I'll just say that it was during those months that we were led back to the Church. We met some wonderful friends, several of whom remain dear to us even ten years later. We were drawn onto the path that would lead us home in our faith, and the things we went through on the way made certain that what we would learn in the years ahead would find their mark in our hearts and souls, praise God.
Fast forward to April, where we find the Mama completing seven weeks of bed rest. I had again been treated to numerous trips to the local hospital, contracting away, but not actually going into meaningful labor. Finally we were to the point that I could be up and doing, and I was beyond ready to do so. On The Night In Question, we were in a neighboring town about 20 minutes from home, shopping for a tricycle for the Frog--the little red Radio Flyer that has been loved by children through the years, which makes appearances in almost every neighborhood around this great country. We ended up having to get a rain check, as the tremendous sale which we were taking advantage of had indeed been taken advantage of by dozens of other parents.
We spent some time browsing the store, while I happily contracted away, hoping that this time it wasn't a false alarm. As bedtime for the Frog neared, I began to know that this time was Different. It's funny--even with the Monkey being my fourth baby, it was hard to know the difference between contractions and CONTRACTIONS. You think you know, but then when you really know, You Really Know. Anyway, at about 7:00, I informed My Darling that perhaps it was time for us to complete our shopping adventure and head home, because I was about to be very busy.
He had no clue what I meant, not having been through this before.
I think he got the picture when all of a sudden his very pregnant wife, who had been smiling only a few moments earlier, suddenly began walking faster and faster toward the check-out line and then breezed past him and said, "HurryupI'llwaitforyouinthetruck!"
It's not as though I was in transition. I wasn't anywhere close. I just really needed to be at home and not walking around a store. I wanted to get the Frog in bed, and to call my dad so that he could come camp out on the couch and be there for the Frog when she woke up in the morning. I wanted to get into the shower and let the warm water soothe my aching back.
When we got home, I did all of those things, and while I was in the shower My Darling (bless his hard working heart) fell asleep.
Cardinal Sin Number One: Whilst thy wife labors to bring forth thy boy child, thou shalt not slumber. Neither shall thee rest thine eyes, though they be marred with gunk. Thou shalt kneel by her side, groaning with her in her pain, meekly waiting to serve her in ways which neither cause her consternation nor suffering, for it is thy fault which causes her pain.
I woke him up less than gently, and forced him to play cards with me until I couldn't sit anymore. We walked around our apartment, he drinking coffee, and me clutching anything I could reach on which to lean, and finally at about 1:30 AM we headed to the hospital.
Our nurse was amazing. My labor was much longer than it had been with the Frog (3 hours, 43 minutes for those of you keeping track at home), and it hurt so much I thought I would surely die. I had indicated that I really wanted to do things naturally, knowing that I had and therefore could, and knowing that I abhorred anything remotely needle-like coming anywhere near my body. Also, this hospital did not offer epidurals--only spinals--and I knew that I didn't want one of those. Tracy heard me--I mean, really heard me when I told her this. She didn't nod and smile and totally disregard our wishes, pushing me into things I didn't want. No, she encouraged and supported both me and My Darling, reminding me that this is what I was made to do, that my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to do to birth our son, and that I was getting closer with every contraction. She was fantastic. (At the time, though I didn't know it, she was also studying with Chris--our midwife!!--to become a nurse-midwife. No wonder she was so fabulous!)
The back labor was due to the Pickle's sunny-side up position, which meant that the back of his head made full-force contact with every single vertebrae in my back, and even some from people I've never met, just for good measure. I used the shower. I leaned over a ball (at which time I devised a clever new device: suction cup handles which could be attached to the floor so that the laboring Mama has something to hold onto, for Pete's sake, lest she be tossed like so much flotsam as her well-meaning husband applies the much heard about counter-pressure to her lower back!). I rocked on my hands and knees. Nothing would turn this boy.
When transition hit, I was sitting in the bathroom. I tend to labor there a lot, since it gives your body a great place to absolutely relax and open up the way it needs to. I was hot, and My Darling sat on a chair, facing me, applying washcloths soaked in ice water to my lower back which was screaming with each contraction. He was crooning soft words of encouragement and love to me in between contractions, as I rested my head on a pillow which was perched on his lap.
Now, I must bring to light Cardinal Sin Number Two: Thou shalt not utter words of obvious truth to thy wife whilst she labors to bring forth thy boy child. Nay, phrases containing words eluding to the changing colour of the hair of thy wife's head shall be as an abomination in her sight, and her teeth shall gnash at the flesh of thy arm.
It's true. He pointed out a white hair. I was in transition. Out of my mind with the pain in my back. I bit his arm. Hard. The bruise lasted about two weeks. Maybe even a month.
When I was near the end of transition, I was helped back to the bed. It was all the way across the desert--you know, the hospital room--and it took both My Darling and Tracy to get me there, and it involved three contractions. By the third one, I knew things were changing again. I got up onto the bed, and when Tracy told me I was finally complete, I was elated--and promptly threw up.
Now, Dr. Pompous, whose practice I've since left, finally made his appearance. It was about 6:45 on Friday morning--my second Friday birth in a row. Friday being his day off. The nerve. How dare I do this to him? He immediately informed Tracy that she had to break my bag of waters. Obviously, babies cannot be born with that intact. (At least I'm not bitter.) Since I didn't know better then, I could have cared less......until after this was done, I was pronounced to be not complete, but a mere eight centimeters. I promptly fired everyone in the room.
Thankfully, it only took one contraction to correct the situation, and I was told to begin pushing.
Oh, the back pain. It wasn't done. I gave one half-hearted attempt at pushing while sitting in the Doctor-Friendly position, and then informed him that this was Not Going To Work, and I turned to my left side. With my arms around his neck, my head in the crook of his right elbow, and my right knee in the crook of his left elbow, My Darling encouraged me as best he could. Now, as much as I love and admire him, and realizing that in this position, and with me pulling earnestly with each pushing effort I made, and minding the fact that he couldn't quite get his hands together to counter-balance the forces being applied to his body, he did it again.....
Cardinal Sin Number Three: Thou shalt be mindful that whilst thy wife groans in her pains to bring forth thy boy child, that thy pains are but a speck. Thou shalt not weep, nor shalt thou wail in thy sufferings, for thy weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth shall be as an abomination in her sight, and she shall seek to smite thee for it. Yea, thou shalt set thy suffering aside as an offering, seeking only to lessen her pains.
By the time the Pickle emerged, at 7:01 AM, weighing in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and measuring a petite 18 inches, I felt fantastic. Tylenol was all I needed to take the edge off what I felt. Even the after pains were tolerable with my friend Extra Strength. Total labor time: 13 hours.
My Darling, however, as a result of his efforts to assist me in mine, had ruined his back. He was stuck, bent at about an 80 degree angle, and no help for it. While he sat across the room from me, cradling our beautiful son in his strong arms, I put in a call to our chiropractor, Dr. K. She graciously agreed to meet him early at her office, and she did her very best to put him back together.
There was, however, nothing she could do for the bruise on his arm. :)