I know it's been a while....."Circumstances alter cases," as Fr. Tim would say. It's been a flurry of activity around here, and no two ways about it. First the birth of my Sweet Little Pumpkin, then a death and funeral, then Thanksgiving, and here it's already Eleven Days Since My Snuggle Bug Arrived.
And so.....the story you've all been waiting for:
The Birth of my Little Pumpkin!
Two weeks ago, I knew that labor was going. It was Sunday afternoon, and after Mass we made a stop to pick up a few last-minute items (new shoes for two of the kiddos, a couple of other things), and I Just Knew that we had to come home. It was the same feeling I had when labor began for the Pickle.
But it was not to be that day! Eventually things petered out, but not before we had our midwives, Chris and Billie, and Pumpkin's Godmother T. here with us. They all ended up spending the night with us and then going home Monday morning.....without having witnessed a birth.
My Darling stayed home on Monday. I don't know what other choice he really had; neither of us had any sleep at all Sunday night, of course, so we two mostly rested on Monday. Nothing really happened labor-wise, but since Chris had brought the birth pool, I was able to spend some time just relaxing in the water. That was heavenly (!) and it allowed me to really relax my body, which I desperately needed to do.
Tuesday late afternoon we started up again. Not much really happened during the day, but that evening things got a little more active.
Until the pool broke.
(Well...sort of.) The pool itself is constructed of a rigid foam material, not unlike the mats you can buy for a layer of insulation between a sleeping bag and the cold ground. There is a vinyl liner that goes all the way around it like a sleeve--covers the bottom, comes up around the inside edges and to the floor on the outside like an apron. Then we put another layer of clear plastic inside it as Our Own Personal Liner. There's a rope that then goes around the edges to anchor the plastic and to put tension around the pool and hold it together. The only problem was.....the rope snapped.
Enter that fabulous layer of vinyl, which (along with me, CONTRACTING, for Pete's sake!) held the pool together while My Darling raced out to the garage to grab a nylon ratchet strap (like you use to hold down cargo on top of the car on a trailer) to put in the rope's stead. (Now mind you, we laugh hysterically when we think back about this or tell the tale to others...at the moment, I was panicking, I assure you! But it really was such a comedy of errors--I only wish we'd had a camera set up to take in this scene!)
That's all fine and good, you think, but not only did we realize then that the liner had a tear in it (which we discovered because My Darling's knees were then getting wet...but BEFORE the carpet got wet, thanks be to God!)--so then we had to empty the pool, re-line it with different plastic (and we were out of clear, so we had to use depressing black!) and then refill it--but it was also enough excitement, thankyouverymuch, that labor STOPPED.
S. T. O. P. P. E. D.
Only to pick up again Wednesday morning--and this time, it stuck around to see what was what!
And while I was rather certain that my water had broken on Sunday afternoon, there was no doubt at all on Wednesday morning at about 10:45. I felt the tell-tale pop, and that pretty well gave it away.
Enter labor. Took off it's coat. Stayed a while.
I must apologize in advance--if I heard this from someone else rather than having it happen to me, I'd feel cheated. But this really is what happened.
Labor was a joy! I had intense contractions, but not many contractions. They were just effective is all. And the surprise was that they didn't hurt. At. All. They were work, yes, but not painful in the least.
So I labored about it. We called the midwives and T., and my friend V. (who was to be my doula). T. and V. were delayed for various family reasons, and by the time they got there, I was at nearly done, for Pete's sake...and the contractions had been good, but I still had some work ahead of me to do. Chris suggested that I get onto my hands and knees with my rump up in the air and my face in the mattress. I did. The contractions STOPPED. So we waited a while, told some jokes, talked about the weather (balmy, at 41 degrees--compared to seventeen below zero when My Monkey was born!), and after a bit V. asked me if I wanted her to use some pressure points.
Hit me! I gave her my hand and she went to work. And it Worked! More contractions, more work, but still no pain. And there was time in between these contractions. At one point I said, "We have enough time in between these things to go out to eat!" (Even at a place with ssslllllllloooooooooooooooowwwwww service, like AppleBees!) We laughed. We joked some more.
Then Chris checked me. I had just a little way to go, but still with some hard work to get done.
At this point, it was about 5:00, and T. and V. Just Knew...and they took the kids and went to McDonald's.
Now the pain.
But it was only for 20 minutes, and then I was able to get into the water. I gave a couple of good pushes, and there was her head.....and it was that place that by all rights should burn like fire...and it didn't. I reached down and felt her silky little head, and I was just marveling at it! I could feel the top of her wrinkled up little forehead and the sweet softness of her brand new hair, and I just smiled and smiled and said, "Hello, Baby! I love you! You're so soft!" I couldn't have gotten the huge grin off of my face if you'd paid me!
And Chris said, "You know, you could push the rest of your baby out and actually hold him!" (Because this whole time, we were convinced [by heart rate numbers] that it was a boy!) And it was like I suddenly remembered that...Oh yeah, I'm here to do something, aren't I?! Well, so I did. I pushed the rest of her out with the next contraction (and as with the others, there were about 4 or 5 minutes between them!), and literally just as Chris was lifting my Little Pumpkin up out of the water and onto my chest, the kids walked in the door!
I just sat and loved on her for a few minutes and then T. said, "Well what do we have, for Pete's sake?!" I said, "I don't know, I haven't looked yet!"
And I looked......and she was Our Little Pumpkin! Our Snuggle Bug!! Her birth time was 5:57 PM...she weighed 7 pounds on the nose and was 20 1/2 inches tall.
Reepicheep cut the cord. Monkey kept gently saying (through his immense grin), "Pumpkin is here!" Pickle was quiet and looked away a lot. (Typical 10-year-old boy, I guess!) The Frog was enthralled, but quiet.
Physically, I've healed very well.
And I'm trying to let my heart immerse itself in the joy of this beautiful birth, while at the same time being so intensely sad for our very dear friends who very suddenly and unexpectedly lost their little seven-week-old baby boy just four short days after my Little Pumpkin was born. He was not sick; he was not injured--he just simply...stopped. This baby was the sixth child in their family, but the fourth little Saint in Heaven for them (they've suffered three miscarriages as well). Beginning tonight, our family (and several others) is praying a Rosary Novena with this dear family in mind, set to end on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
God has already allowed my Little Pumpkin to help begin healing the hearts of this dear couple. During the reception following his funeral Mass, they each held her--they asked to hold her. And God bless them, their faith is so strong that even Monsignor commented during the homily at the funeral that not once did he hear the questions that so many parents rightly ask, "Why us? Why our baby? Why our family? What kind of God does this?" No, their faith remains rock solid, because it is based on the Rock of Jesus Christ. They keep in mind that our children are not ours; they are His. It is a faith truly inspiring to all who know them, and it is a comfort to know that they have such solid ground. They will need it in the days and weeks to come.
Needless to say, it's been something of a roller coaster, both terrible and wonderful. I know full well that Satan does not want us to feel the joy of our blessings; rather he wants us to question our worthiness in God's eyes....and I do not intend to let him win. My humble prayer for myself is to stop allowing the fear of losing my own precious baby to override the joy of her birth.
Please pray, at this beginning of Advent, for all families who are suffering losses, that they may find hope in this beautiful time of year.
Pray also for the couples who want so much to bring children into the world and raise them up, and who find themselves in circumstances which make this dream difficult.
Pray for those who deny themselves of the warmth of the love of Christ, for whatever reason, that their hearts might be softened by the love of a Child.
And Rejoice! Praise the Lord that we have this lovely season of Advent to gladden our hearts as we anticipate the joy of The Birth!!