getting ready for baby

It’s starting to get pretty real:

— the growing belly
— the slower walk
— the acrobatics that begin every time I lay down
— the sudden days of exhaustion
— the always-in-the-back-of-my-mind awareness of a baby.

I’ll enjoy a bit more time of just thinking about a new baby before I dive into earnest birth preparations. For now, getting ready looks like:

— starting to feel like maybe it’s time to actually think about names. (I keep waiting for one to just be spelled out in the clouds or something.)
— talking more about a new baby with Beatrice. She sort of gets it, I guess: she will gently rub my belly and whisper, “shhh” in her most soothing ‘baby’ voice.
— walking as close to every day as possible, stretching, and doing simple toning exercises.
— laying down without apology.

Any favorite baby name sites to recommend?

10, 9,…


This, apparently, is about the size/weight of Baby #4. The boys are not impressed.

30 weeks. Almost 31. That’s how long this little baby has been growing. Depending on who asks about my due date, I either get eyes-popping “Wow, you’re huge already, and you have that long to go??” answers, or (generally, if it’s a guy asking), “That’s really soon!”

Well, yes to both of those. There’s no denying that this baby is all there, or that this baby has any intention of slowing his growth during the next 9 weeks. But mostly, I’m just wondering where the last seven months have gone, and how we already got this far into pregnancy #4.

I’ve been feeling great, and I’m super thankful. Just recently, on days with a bit too much digging in gardens and pushing of wheelbarrows, I’ve gotten painful twinges in my lower back. But really? I’m not complaining. I’m so thankful.

Of course, “feeling great” doesn’t take into account the exhaustion of pregnancy (which will only increase in the next two months!) Most weeks, there are at least 4 afternoons that find me fast asleep on the couch. “Do the boys still nap?”, people ask. And I have to say, “Well, I’m not sure what they do. I’m out cold!” (No, they don’t usually fall asleep, though it’s happened, especially on a cool afternoon after a string of hot outdoor days.)

We haven’t thought about or discussed baby names. Our bedroom and adjoining bathroom are very, very mid reno. (Another home birth is the plan.) I have this feeling that the transition to four kids is going to seem big.

The baby moves. I feel little feet, and sometimes I push back, wondering if he thinks it’s a game. Hello in there.

30 weeks down. Less than 10 to go. You can do a lot in 10 weeks, right?

But what’s neat about a baby is: they don’t care how much you’ve gotten done, how much you’ve wrapped your mind around their arrival. They just come. And you suddenly realize, This little person didn’t just happen. God prepared and wrapped His mind around them and His love, too. A whole lot of love. And it spills into and out of you, too, and who cares about the bathroom, anyway. There’s a new person to love.

chatty

First, this: a long, lanky boy who climbed onto my lap and just wanted me to hold him.

It’s snowing. Not snowy, but snowing, seemingly every day. This is a long winter, for sure. But as eager as I am to just smell some fresh air and ditch the snow gear, I’m also appreciating a few extra weeks of the quiet that winter brings. Soon enough, I’ll add yards and gardens to cleaning muddy kids to my to-do list. For now, we just enjoy each other inside, and I focus my attention to the domain within these walls.

William went on a get-away with Daddy. Every single photo Ryan sent was of a beaming little boy. Every moment was super special and super exciting, and he came home with his little love-cup brimming to the top — and splashing over. What a special boy.

I was just made aware of the book “Ten Boys Who Changed the World”. Has anyone read that book, or any of the related books? I’d love to hear some feedback. Earlier this year, I read the boys a children’s biography of Amy Carmichael, and it was the best read-aloud yet. There hearts were so evidently stirred to love Jesus and believe in His power. Missionary stories were my favorite growing up, and Mama read several to us besides the ones I read myself, but I can’t think of too many that were particularly 4-year-old-friendly. So any feedback on the above title, as well as any other recommendations, would be appreciated!

I was reading a thread on Facebook last night, started by someone whose worldview is vastly different than mine. It just made me ponder again how thoroughly our worldviews inform our perspectives and values. We literally can’t see past them. Another’s worldview just seems ludicrous and impossible for us to really empathize with. So, in a world full of intelligent people who seem to have connected their dots in a completely different way than I have mine, how can I be so sure I have a leg to stand on? Is it really just a battle of wits, and popular vote? Or can you build your worldview on something altogether True? (Take a listen. It’ll take a few loads of laundry or a couple commutes back and forth, and it’ll be worth it.)

I’ve struggled with diastasis recti since post-William (or maybe even pre-William, but unaware?) Even after William, I didn’t really understand what it was, and when I couldn’t get rid of my baby belly, I did what anyone would do: more crunches! Little did I realize that I was making it even worse. Slowly, I’m learning more and finding exercises that require much diligence, but will hopefully lead to a mended abdomen after this baby. Do any of you have experience/knowledge to share?

Maybe it’s the snow, maybe I’m just a bit tired and behind, but we’re finally getting our sights set on Easter Sunday. Last night, Ryan talked to the boys about Resurrection, and why Jesus couldn’t just stop at Good Friday. Crucified and resurrected; sin and death beaten. We are forgiven, and we will live with Him.

On that note, maybe I can pass this along, too, for more listening material. Don’t spend your love on knowledge, morality, or activism: love and live for Jesus.

beatrice’s birth

Beatrice was born 5 days after her due date; this was her giving us a clue, I suppose, that something was different this time (Jameson was born hours before his due date, William hours after.) Everyone who’d been guessing “girl” all along was even more sure, I suppose. I still didn’t have a clue about gender. All I knew was that I was overdue, and there was no telling how long I would be pregnant for. I settled in for the potential long haul.

Tuesday morning Ryan announced that I would have the baby that day. “I can feel it in my bones!” he declared. I don’t know why he thought that, but it was true that there were signs of labor — though I didn’t worry too much about them, knowing it still could be days or weeks away.

We dropped Jameson off for a tent overnight at Papa’s house, then drove to Kevin and Liz’s house for dinner. Somewhere between bites of yummy pork loin and sweet corn, I began having contractions that felt legit — not too intense, and spaced far apart, but worth noting. After walking downtown for ice cream cones, I finally said something. I knew I needed to get home and go to sleep, just in case this was for real.

Mom was already here when we pulled in the driveway, washing dishes and straightening things up and telling us to get to bed. I got to read a bedtime story to William, hugging him tight and enjoying one more “baby” William moment. Then I headed to bed.

And, oddly, my contractions started getting farther apart. I had never experienced that before, and didn’t know what to think of it. Rather than worrying too much about it, I just tried to sleep.

At 11:30, a very intense contraction woke me up completely. Ryan immediately noticed the difference in my breathing. We timed a few (still not very impressive, I thought), and he called Regina to let her know things seemed to be intensifying.

And that’s when time sort of stopped. Just like with both boys, as soon as labor began in earnest, it went into overdrive. I tried to walk around more than I have in the past, though I have no idea how long that lasted for. It seemed that in no time, the contractions were longer than the space in between. I became aware of people arriving, lamps being switched on, candles being lit, and equipment being arranged, but mostly, I was just aware of waves of pressure, Ryan, and my mom.

It was so intense. I know that goes without saying, but then again, what else is there to say? Labor is so much work on so many levels, but for me, the most important work of labor is staying on top of my thoughts and attitude. Relaxing is so important, but it would be impossible without first getting control of my thoughts. This time around, as I’d prepared for the birth by re-reading some favorites, I was impressed by a story of one rather scared first-time mom, who overcame her fears by realizing her body was incredibly capable of making way for this baby. She chanted to herself, over and over, “I’m going to get huge.” I thought of her as waves of tension rolled over me. It feels like everything in you is being squeezed and compressed, but I know that what I need to concentrate on is opening — relaxing completely and willing my body to open stronger, faster, more efficiently. There were a few peaks when I just wanted to lose it — scream and yell and curl up in a ball and be done. And I had to tell myself to just hold on, or I’d waste a perfectly good contraction, and why on earth would I prolong this agony when I could actually help it along?

And so, wave after wave, with Ryan gently touching my jaw, my shoulders, my palms — reminders to me to relax — and my mom pushing so hard on my lower back through the worst of the contractions, I just pictured OPEN.

I could feel the baby moving down, and the pressure on my spine mounted. My third baby, and still, I could not believe how ridiculous that pressure was — but then again, even as I was thinking that and wanting to be a bit angry, I realized a little body was pushing against my spine, trying to make its way out, and you know what? Suddenly the pressure makes sense. (I’m pretty sure that’s when I started moaning “ba-by”, and Ryan thought I’d gone coo-coo.)

Wary of premature pushing, I laid on my bed and just endured as much of that as I could before finally being sure that, yes, it was time. We’d planned on kneeling at the end of the bed, but Regina really wanted me to try laying on my side — a gentler option for someone who has a tendency to bleed too much. She must have seen worry on my face, because she gently reassured me that she didn’t think it would mean more work for me. I trusted her completely, and suddenly there was a little flurry as everyone got ready for the big arrival — and I silently wondered if I could remember how to push. For the first time, Regina took control, coaching me clearly through that climactic and somewhat crazy finale. I utterly amazed myself by being able to not push at her command, something I thought I would never be able to do. My waters broke, the head crowned, a pause, then the head, and finally — oh, the most wonderful feeling in the world! — the last push, and a baby. “A girl!”, Ryan announced.

A girl! I sank into my pillows in utter exhaustion, overwhelmed by a wave of thankfulness for making it through, and wanting to weep with joy over this new wonder — all in the circle of excitement and joy of sisters and friends, mom and midwife, and of course, Ryan. What a welcome to the world Beatrice had!

4:52am. Slivers of pink were lighting the sky outside the bedroom window. She cried immediately, and then nursed like a pro. The birth “party”, who had all watched so quietly, now sprang into action, bringing me Shepherd’s Purse tea, juice, warm towels for my shaking legs, wool socks, a hat for the baby, watching timers for the apgar scoring, massaging my stomach, and cheering me on for that last stage. They were amazing. It was amazing. My body delivered a baby! Isn’t that just amazing?

I couldn’t say enough about my experience with Regina. This delivery was, by far, the most gentle on my body, and it’s all thanks to her. She had me pumping iron-rich foods and Floradix for months to prepare my body for a blood loss, and, between that and her hard work after my delivery, what a difference it made! Twelve hours after giving birth, I was standing in a shower by myself, shampooing my hair. I have never been able to even come close to that before. And thanks to her wisdom regarding delivery positions, and her coaching, I didn’t tear at all. I was amazed by how phenomenal I felt. I was walking back and forth to my living room the very next day!

And of course, I can’t say enough about giving birth at home. I am so thankful to have found Regina. Laboring in my own house, being surrounded by supportive friends and a capable midwife, and feeling no pressure to do anything other than follow my body’s cues — it’s just so amazing. No cakewalk, of course, but amazing.

A healthy delivery, a healthy baby — blessing on blessing. I am so thankful.