I've been itching to write this post for a week, looking for a chance to sit alone and really pour out this sacred experience in words. It's taken a week to realize that's not going to happen. So I sit here, nursing this precious new babe and typing with one hand, remembering what life is like with an infant. It's about allowing life to flow, and you go with it, and you giggle at all the typos you have to fix because you only have one hand to work with, and you don't wait for that "perfect time" because you might miss an entire season waiting for it. So you just smile at all the sweetness and plug away through any difficulties.
Six months before conceiving little Joseph, I had a dream I was taking Christmas pictures of the children on our lawn. They were lined up from oldest to youngest, and at the end of the line was a fifth child. A little boy. He was wearing a turquoise and black sweater I had knitted him. I tucked that little dream away. After that, about a dozen people, some close friends, others perfect strangers from all over the country came up to us and all said the same thing: "I don't usually do this, but I had a dream (or vision) that you had a baby boy." Some had no idea that we were even trying for a baby. When we found out we were expecting, I thought here comes our second son! Here comes the brother that our only son has been praying for for over four years!
At 22 weeks, we had an ultrasound. Like with the rest of our children, we wanted to find out what we were having. I'm a planner and I love to prepare. I was ready for them to tell us what we already knew: we were having a boy. But the umbilical cord was in between the baby's legs, and the tech said he wasn't sure because the cord was in the way, but his guess was a girl. He must have been pretty sure though, because he called the baby a girl for the rest of the ultrasound. I got dizzy. A girl? That didn't make any sense.
We spent the next few days processing. We weren't at all opposed to having a fourth girl. We adore our girls. We'd love another one. But what about all those dreams and words about a boy? What will happen to our oldest son's heart who's been praying so sincerely for a little brother for so long? How do we help him navigate through this? We decided that even though the results weren't conclusive, we weren't going to have another ultrasound and that this baby was going to be a surprise, and were glad to have gone through the process we had. We were ready to love the stuffing out of another daughter if that's what we were given. But I never felt a peace in calling the baby "she," because the ultrasound didn't feel exact enough.
When it was time for the baby to come into the world, Jeremy and I readied a few name choices. We seemed to land on Emma Louise if it was a girl. "But what if it's a boy?" I asked Jeremy. "Chances of it being a boy are so small. If it is a boy, it'll be easy to think up a good, strong name for him." was his answer.
I started experiencing strong contractions one Sunday afternoon. They were five minutes apart and lasted a couple hours. I felt panic-y that my parents weren't here yet and felt a huge urge to communicate that to them so they could make plans for the nine-hour drive up here as soon as possible. They heard it loud and clear and started the drive two hours later. Then the contractions stopped and I got nervous. They only had a week to be here. What if they miss the birth entirely? They've been with us for every one. The thought was too much, so I started walking. A lot. Every day.
Every morning, I woke up more and more teary-eyed. The days with my parents were so sweet, and I was so thankful to spend time with them before recovery from the birth, but still no baby. The day before they had to leave, they asked if we would be okay with them staying three extra days. It felt too good to be true. I was thrilled to have more time. So we walked miles every day.
One night, I kept having this strange dream, or more like a picture, of four fours lined up in a row. I saw it over and over again. The next morning, I woke up with strong contractions. It wasn't the first time it had happened, but this time it was at 4:00 in the morning. Could it have to do with one of the fours in my dreams? An hour later, I woke Jeremy up, alerting him that this was probably "it," and after another hour of continual, strong contractions, we called the midwife and told my parents. At 8:00 (four hours later, could it be the the second four in that crazy dream?), the midwife checked my progress. I was 100% effaced and... zero centimeters dilated. My heart sank. I felt horrible for sounding the alarm. The midwife went home. But I knew I was in early labor. So Jeremy and I walked some more. My dear friend brought over a birthing ball for me to sit on and prayed for a timely birth. And we walked even more.
At the end of our last walk, I knew I had entered into active labor. Contractions were strong and two minutes apart, sometimes closer. I needed to sit. Jeremy called the midwife. My water broke. Jer called the midwife again (who was already on her way). She checked me at 11:00. I was trembling and it felt like transition. I was at 4/5 centimeters. Into the shower I went. Contractions were right on top of each other. Then, I started to push. I literally crawled to our bed.
When it comes time to push the baby out, I let out a sound that only happens while giving birth. Jeremy calls it the Braveheart Yell. I don't even think I could mimic it now if I tried. I told the kids about it, and that they shouldn't be afraid when they hear it because it meant the baby was coming out. My oldest still wanted to be there for the birth. The others wanted "to be at the North Pole or down the hill." They wanted nothing to do with it. I felt myself trying to protect them from my primal noises and Jeremy sensed it, so he quietly stepped out and asked my dad to take them outside to play for a little while.
It was time. I looked up and saw my mom and daughter in the corner, ready to see the baby. I was still nervous about exposing my ten-year-old to the Braveheart Yell, but I had no choice. Out it erupted, and out came a little head. Braveheart Yell number two: out came half of the little baby. At 12:37pm and with one final Braveheart Yell, our baby was born. From the time I was at zero centimeters to birth, it was four hours (the third four from that strange dream).
I looked at Jeremy. His face flushed and his eyes grew huge. "It's a BOY!' he yelled. Laughter absolutely erupted from everyone in the room. Jeremy ran out to tell our son that he had a brother. Quickly, all four kids came into the bedroom. Our son, iPhone in hand, took care of the media and captured pictures and videos. Everyone got to see the baby get weighed and measured.
A half hour after the birth, after checking baby and I, and after I took a shower, the midwife and her apprentice cleaned up, packed up, and said goodbye. And just like that, we were a family of seven, all at home, admiring this little baby boy.
I have nothing against hospital births. I had four of them. But if you are able to have a home birth, I can't tell you how much I loved it. It was so... natural. And I'll be honest, not having nurses wake me up in the middle of the night to check things and sleeping and recovering in my own bed with my kids popping in throughout the day for a quick hug was absolutely heavenly.
It was time to captures some moments.
|A dad and his sons|
|The two littlest and Daddy|
|Sweet, amazing, biggest sister|
|A proud big sister|
|Mama and the two littlest|
We needed a name. It proved to be harder for us to name a baby once he was born. We went through lists and lists of names. Then our kids came into the room and declared, "We have a name!" Seeing as the last time one of the kids had a name chosen that it was Chihuahua Baby, I was expecting something similar and readied a merciful rejection. When I asked them what the name was, they said, "Joseph!" Jer and I looked at each other. Joseph wasn't even on our radar. But it was working. So went with it. The middle name was an easy one. He shares daddy's middle name, and he was named Joseph Michael. Our four kids found his name. Ah! The fourth four from that crazy "four" dream!
So many dreams surround the coming of baby Joseph. It's kind of fitting that Joseph is his name, isn't it? Now, I best learn how to knit, find some organic turquoise and black yarn, and make him a sweater before it's time for Christmas pictures...
And now, my one typing hand is tired, but not as tired as my eyes. Baby has fallen asleep, and I am going to join him. Sweet dreams, baby Joseph.