Incidentally, nine months is also just the right amount of time to conceive, grow, and birth what may be the world's cutest baby.
(Pardon the huge basket of laundry in the background, just keeping things real...)
About a year ago, I got a (completely shocking) positive pregnancy test. I admit it, I cried. And flipped out. And called a friend while I was pacing around the yard, and kept saying things like "There is no way in the world that this is ever going to be okay." Then I told my husband and we both cried.
It took a few weeks for me to decide that I was okay with the idea of another baby. And then, just like that, I miscarried. It was a strange place to be in. It took me a while to even decide how I felt about it. But, when all was said and done, we decided that yes, we did want another baby to join our family. It took a surprisingly short amount of time to get another one of these.
We were 100% convinced it was a girl. We had a name picked out from the beginning, referred to the baby as "she," bought baby girl clothes, and didn't even entertain the thought of it being a boy. Until we went for the routine 20 week ultrasound and the tech started writing "boy" on the screen, the possibility of having another boy never crossed our minds. I even accused the poor ultrasound technician of lying to us. Ashlynn, who was babysitting at the time and didn't see the ultrasound, was convinced the entire family was playing an elaborate joke on her when we told her she was having a baby brother. It wasn't until I showed her the ultrasound photos myself that she was convinced. It took some time for me to get used to the idea of three little boys in a row; there were many moments throughout the pregnancy where I would look at Max and Ian wrestling on the floor and wonder what in the world it was going to be like to add another to the mix.
I'm not going to sugarcoat it: it wasn't an easy pregnancy. In fact, miserable might be a better word. This was my eighth pregnancy, and by far the hardest. In other pregnancies, I would feel nauseous, or maybe dry heave. This pregnancy, I threw up nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day, for nearly the entire pregnancy. At 38 weeks, I texted a friend to tell her I was full term and still puking in the sink every morming. Heartburn, no sleep, aches and pains? Oh yes. Present and accounted for.
As soon as we could wrap our minds around another pregnancy, we began planning a homebirth. While being in the hospital was the right decision for Ian's birth, both Tom and I much preferred the experience we had birthing Max at home. I went into it with a certain amount of nervousness: while Max and Ian's births were both wonderful experiences in their own way, the start and stop labors were hard both physically and emotionally, and I wanted to do anything I could to avoid a repeat of that experience. The only thing that I could come up with as a reason for the weird labor pattern was that with both the boys, I had interventions, however "natural," to try and get the labor going. So, I called my dear friend Heidi, who was my doula for both the boys and had since become a midwife, and dove into homebirth planning with both feet. I made all three midwives in the practice promise not to let me mess with anything as I came close to my due date, no matter how much I begged.
The hardest challenge of the pregnancy was the near constant contractions that started around 30 weeks. At 33 weeks we ended up in the hospital for pre-term labor, a scenario that was familiar from Ian's pregnancy, but the contractions were much more serious this time around. We were all but convinced that we were going to end up in the hospital with a preemie, but as it turned out, once they stopped my labor and sent me home, I was just in for weeks and weeks of miserable, painful contractions, that did nothing but exhaust me and make me grumpy.
My due date was June 12th, and I was super convinced that I wouldn't make it to my due date. All the pre-term contractions, plus the fact that Ian and Max were both born before their due date had me convinced that he would be an early June baby, if not born in late May. Every day that passed found me more discouraged. Every night I went to bed with contractions 3-5 minutes apart, and every morning I'd wake up miserable and still pregnant. As I checked concerts, recitals, and all of the normal end of school year items off my list, I became more tired, grumpy and anxious to meet my baby by the day.
My only consolation was that my dear friend Morgan was coming to Utah to be here for the birth, and would arrive two days before his due date. I fully anticipated that he would be born as soon as she got here; that HAD to be the only thing keeping my body from going into labor. But then my due date came and went and oh, how grumpy I was about it! I felt terrible for my poor supportive husband who had to live with pregnant me, and my kids, who at that point had learned to just stay out of my way! Each day that crawled by, I was more and more convinced that I was going to be the first woman ever pregnant forever, that my body was broken and had no idea how to really go into labor, and that I was going to be stuck facing a hospital induction at 42 weeks. It really was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting.
Several times I gave serious consideration to "natural" induction methods. At my last midwife appointment, I begged my midwives to strip my membranes, hoping to get labor going, and they refused. While I should have kept in mind all my determination at the beginning of the pregnancy to not mess with things, it didn't keep me from being irrationally angry with them. Friday afternoon, I even went and bought a bottle of castor oil and the ingredients for a castor oil smoothie, determined to serve the baby an eviction notice, then chickened out at the last minute. I wanted a good, smooth, low-intervention birth, and was too afraid that castor oil, along with tasting awful, would screw everything up.
Then came Monday, June 16th, 3 days past my due date. Morgan was flying home with her family early the next morning, and to say that we were both upset that she had been here a whole week and was going to miss the birth is an understatement. The only time I had been pregnant longer than this was with Abby, who was induced at 42 weeks. I said goodbye to my best friend and my doula and went to bed and cried. I'm not joking when I say that when I went to bed that night, I was more discouraged than ever.
(And this is already too long, so I'll stop here and continue in another post that hopefully won't take 9 months to write...)