I woke up the morning of April 22nd cranky, irritable and restless. For many women I've heard that is a sign of an impending birth, but you couldn't prove it by me. I was 15 days overdue and at that point I had been waking up cranky, irritable, restless and pleading with the Lord every morning for over a week that *this* would be the day. Lee took me out for brunch at IHOP, we did some walking, and finished Bethi's birthday shopping. Bethi's birthday was just 9 days away and I was really hoping I would have a baby by then! It seems once I pass my due date, the birth date feels like it has to be getting further and further away when realistically that is obviously impossible.
At 5:12 that afternoon I got a "real" contraction. I didn't get too excited because since my fourth baby I've gotten occasional "real" contractions, sometimes timable even, and awoken the next morning still pregnant. They kept up consistently until I ate supper, at which point they seemed to stop again. Lee was optimistic that if we just walked some more they would turn into something, so while the little ones were preparing for bed we went and walked the nature trails at the nearby park again. It was a nice, romantic walk in the dark with the glow of so many lightening bugs among the trees. On the way back to the car I had some really, really good contractions but once we got home they seemed to spread out and get less intense, though they never stopped after this point. We had our time of family devotions, put the children to bed, and settled down with Ben and Jerry's and a comedy. I had pretty much convinced myself that this wouldn't be the night because with all of my babies that I went into labor with naturally I was in labor by 10:30 at night, and by now it was already after 11 ;). Not more than five minutes into the movie I started having some major contractions and a half hour later I was writhing with pain. I was crying and thinking, "Man, if I can't handle this how am I going to get through the real thing?!". They were still *completely* inconsistent, anywhere from 8 to 23 minutes apart so I was assuming they were "false" labor pains.
About halfway through the movie (Jerry Lewis' "Rock-A-Bye Baby", haha :)) Lee told me he knew this was it and if I was still having contractions after the movie was over we would be calling Jamie, my midwife. I have the hardest time deciding when to call the midwife. A false labor call with a home birth is different than with a hospital birth. If you run in to the hospital to see what's going on, you aren't putting anybody out. With a home birth I know I'm totally messing up someone's night if I'm in false labor. After the movie was over I was still having contractions but they were not timable in the least, they were anywhere from 3 to 20+ minutes between contractions. I got up and walked for a bit, but at this time I was in such pain I knew I was either in labor or something was wrong!
Lee called Jamie and I talked to her a bit. I don't think she was quite convinced this was it either...I wasn't quite convinced yet myself since the contractions were so irregular. I've had irregular contractions in labor before, but nothing like this. In the past there have been ranges of maybe 6 to 13 minutes by the time the contractions were as strong as these. Jamie arrived and watched me through a contraction and jumped into gear. I think at that point she thought we would be having a baby much sooner than we did!
I was blessed that Jamie's daughter, Jessica, who had assisted in my birth with Emmi had Providentially "just happened" to drive up from Charleston to spend a few days with her mom. Brooke, who has assisted with both Abbi's and Emmi's birth was there as well. With Lee at my side I had the perfect birthing team yet again!
At this point I was pretty sure I was in labor but I also suspected it was going to be very different than it had ever been before. After delivering six babies I guess you don't expect to see anything "new", haha. I don't normally care to be checked but I wanted to be sure baby wasn't transverse or something, this just felt so different than usual. So, Jamie checked my progress and I was at a 6...but she asked Jessica (who is a L&D nurse) to check me as well because she had never before seen such a posterior cervix in a woman in labor, neither had Jessica. That was very discouraging, but I've gone from a 4 to delivered in a few hours before so I was hoping things would correct themselves quickly. My midwife had brought her birth tub to the house a day or two before that, we filled the tub and I got in. Relief, yes! Not as much as I was hoping for, but it did become manageable again, Praise the Lord! My contractions continued to vary wildly, I was even dozing off during the longer breaks.
About this time Emmi woke up. I had been hoping to just let my mom sleep through the night and then call her in the morning. My mom is an early bird and my children are night owls so I figured if we called her about when she would be up she would likely be here about the time the children got up. Lee was able to take care of Emmi quickly, but I was having a hard enough time that I decided it may be better to just have her there right away and I knew she wouldn't mind. I am so thankful the Lord prompted me to call her when I did because they ended up having car trouble on the way here and it took them much longer than it normally would have, but they still arrived before any of the little ones woke up again.
Jessica had taken some Nyquil to help her sleep just before I called that night so she took a nap on the couch for a bit. Jamie realized I probably wasn't going to go as quickly as I had in the past and she went to take a nap as well. Brooke dozed a bit, and found a birthing ball isn't the best place for a nap, heehee :). It was just Lee and I for a while, which is my favorite way to labor. I am so thankful for a midwife who gives us the space we need, while still being very available. About 6:30 that morning the contractions were still sporadic, no closer together and I was getting so discouraged so I assented to being checked again. I was a nine, but baby was still pretty far up. I couldn't decide if this was good news or not, haha :). When 9:30 came and went and there was no change it got really hard, I had thought for sure I would have a baby by 9, all of my natural labors had been over by 9. I got out of the tub for a while and rested on my bed when the contractions started coming further and further apart again. I dozed a bit during these breaks, but I really wanted to cry. I've learned my (comparatively) quick labors with contractions two minutes long and three minutes apart are no fun, but I much prefer them to a slow, unpredictable labor that seems to never end!
I was trying to use gravity and Lee was helping support my tummy, trying to help me get baby in the right position so s/he could slip into the right spot and I could be *done*! About now Brooke put some pressure on my hips as I stood...I wish I hadn't waited until then to let her do that! It helped soooooooo much! After about an hour of that I got back in the tub and soon I felt pushy! Yes! Something was happening! It still took a while and it got harder. At one point I was holding Lee's hand and I bit the poor guy! I have no idea what I was thinking, I just remember thinking, "Poor guy! What am I doing?!", haha :). He told me later that he and Jamie got quite the kick out of that. I am so grateful for a husband with a great sense of humor, haha :).
I cleaned up and finally I was truly done and got to snuggle in relative comfort with my little one. I was so glad to be on the other side of birth! He aced his new baby exam and we discovered an Epstein pearl on the roof of his mouth, something else to make him unique among our babies. They are all so much their own person!
It took us a little while to come up with a name but it shouldn't have, Lee had actually named him the January before but I didn't know it, haha :). Lee had added Peter Daniel Lee to the list of names we had put together and I had never scrolled down far enough to see he had added anything, haha :). After a little bit of back and forth ideas, Lee asked me if I didn't like the name he had come up with and I told him I hadn't even seen it, haha :). I knew that was it right away! I loved the name and I loved that Lee had put it together himself, using Peter because he knew it was a name I've wanted to use since we had Andrew five years ago. Andrew in the Bible brought his brother Peter to Christ :). I thought it could be a neat bond between the two brothers, a strong name for Peter, and a reminder to Andrew of the influence he could have over his brother, influence to be used for Christ and not abused.
Peter Daniel Lee was born April 23rd at 11:24 A.M. His name means "A rock whose judge is God and He prospers him". His verse is, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug." ~Isaiah 51:1. Peter was 8 lbs. 8 oz. and 22 1/2 inches long. We *love* our Peter, I can't imagine life without him! Babies never become common place, even (maybe especially!) #7! I love his *big* smile, the way he scratches his little head and plays with his hair, the way he absolutely lights up when he sees Lee. I love the way he *loves* people, he is a very social baby! I love watching Emmi in her new role as a big sister and to watch the other children love on him. We've all enjoyed watching Andrew bond with his brother, the girls have had a brother for years, but it's a new experience for Andrew :). Peter has also been a great source of joy during this time of uncertainty as Lee is out of work.
7 years ago my "goal" was four children. I am so glad for the Lord's work in our hearts and lives that has given us an Abbi, an Emmi and now, a Peter :)!!!