Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.
My due date was February 21. Jonathan, Noah, and Faith had all been exactly five days late. Joy was early, but we weren't sure of her date and the more we thought about it the more we figured she probably had been late as well. So we had Linda and Porter schedule their flight to arrive February 15.
Jon had an opportunity to buy some woodshop tools from a friend in Seattle for a very good price (including shipping across the country.) The timing to go learn how to use the tools and pack them up for shipping worked out so that he would be gone from February 7-13. We would have preferred a week earlier, but it was still getting him home before my parents and certainly before the baby really would come. People at church were shocked that he'd go so far away so close to the due date. But we were confident. You can't think early too much or you're about to die of impatience by the time five days late actually comes.
It's always harder when Daddy's away, but we've done it before and there was a big snowstorm scheduled for the weekend, so I was happy to stay snug at home and have a nice big lot of snow for the kids to play in when they got restless inside.
We enjoyed the storm and the snow, and the kids did a good job of shoveling, though it did turn out to be a bigger job than a 9, 6, and 4 year old can do. We had some friends come over to help the boys finish shoveling out the car and then they stayed for dinner and fun. They had invited us to their house for that evening, which I had reluctantly declined, thinking that I did not want to go bundling everyone out after a storm. So it really worked out perfectly that they came over to our house.
Monday was going to be my hard day – taking the boys to their skiing lesson, and of course taking the girls with me to hang out in the lodge. But the lesson ended up being cancelled because of freezing rain. So that day as well was a nice rest-at-home day. I had already made the tuna salad sandwiches, so dinner was taken care of.
It was Jon's birthday, and he had packed up all of his tools onto the truck. Everything was ready, and he was hoping to switch his flight to come home the next day, a day earlier than originally scheduled. But it was going to cost a bunch of money that we didn't think was worth it for just an extra day and we decided that he should just keep his Wednesday flight.
Next day was Tuesday, and we planned on dropping Noah off at his piano lesson and doing some necessary grocery shopping with the other kids while he was there. I needed to scrape the ice off the car first, so I gave myself an extra fifteen minutes before departure time. But – always need to go to the bathroom first before bundling to go out.
9:00am Tuesday, February 12 – I find the first signs of labor in this trip to the bathroom. The first signs of labor!! I have never had this indicator without the baby being born within 24 hours. No! It can't be! Jon is still in Seattle. I need him! This is too early! I went right to my knees and poured out my emotions to God.
Then I called Jon (6am for him, so I woke him up). We spent an hour on the phone, crying and praying together, discussing options, calling 3-way first with the midwife, then Jon's mom, then my mom.
All plans changed for the day. Barbara came to our house to give Noah his piano lesson. Phil came to scrape the car, get the car seats in place, and do the grocery shopping.
I tried to sit and relax as much as I could. I drank lots of water and mother tea (which Noah was very diligent about fixing for me). My body worked on cleaning itself out, and by the afternoon I was in serious need of some Tucks pads, which Phil wonderfully went out to the store again to get.
Jon found flights that would get him to Manchester at 10:30 pm. (Suddenly, the cost was worth it!) Soon after I got that news, my parents called to say they had also changed their flights and would be arriving at 9:30 pm. Now if labor could only hold off until then!
I had my first actual contraction at 2:20 pm. There were a few more light contractions during my nap, and I had a slight lower backache all day.
Barbara lined up her day so that she could cancel at any time. I puttered around, doing small last minute things like finish packing my clothes and making my parents' bed (with Faith and Joy's help.) The kids got their birth activity bags together – Faith packed Joy's. Jonathan spent some time at the library. Noah made me lots of Mother Tea, and some scrambled eggs.
I lay down on the couch a bunch, and was mostly content to be bored, because I wanted to wait for Jon and my parents anyway.
The kids and I went to bed at 9:00pm. I slept for about an hour and then I knew that Barbara was picking them up from the airport, and couldn't go back to sleep wondering if they should go directly to the birth center, or come home first. I called Jon at about 10:45 and it was so good to hear his voice!
He said they could go either way, so I decided to try to sleep a bit more. I rested, but I did not sleep. The contractions started coming, and I called him again when they were almost home to say that we should head out as soon as they arrived.
We had quick, happy greetings with all and then got packed up. Porter went to Barbara and Phil's to borrow their car, and Jonathan rode with him. Linda rode with Jon, the other kids, and me in our van. I was able to talk between contractions, but Jon did note their progress as we drove.
When we arrived at the birth center around 12:20am, Beth (the midwife) had the birth tub partially filled and was waiting for the hot water tank to reheat.
I went to the bathroom first thing and then forgot that I wanted to avoid using the basil-scented soap to wash my hands. Jon gave me a wipe so I could try to get it off. I'm sensitive to scents anyway, and it is enhanced during labor.
I got right in the tub and it felt nice even if it wasn't full yet. I mostly relaxed leaning against the tub on my side or back in between contractions, and then turning to hands and knees or leaning forward for contractions.
I was so happy to be there. Everything was right. Jon was there! My parents were there! All was as it should be. Thanks be to God!
It was different for me to be there in time to talk in between contractions. I was able to watch myself progress through the stages of labor. I asked Beth how dilated I was (which surprised Jon since I usually don't want to know) and it was a curiosity thing related to being there earlier. I was 4cm.
The kids stayed awake, doing activities from their bags, checking in on me every once in a while. Dad-o read a lot of stories in the play room, I'm told.
Joy was rather overwhelmed by the experience, and even if I couldn't hold her, she wanted to be in the same room as me the whole time. She stayed/cuddled with Daddy until I needed him more, and then she stayed with Grandma.
I asked Jon to push on my lower back, which was another first for me. I think this labor threw Jon off a little. As contractions got more intense, he stayed by me so I could squeeze his hands. As I neared transition, I had to ask him to stop pushing on my back.
Kate, the midwife who owns the birth center, came during transition. Beth added more warm water to the tub a couple of times, and it was really nice when the level got over my lower back.
A couple of times, I had gotten out of the tub to go to the bathroom, and as I neared to pushing I thought I might like to push while sitting/lying on the bed, as I had for my other labors, but I couldn't bear to move out of the water for any reason. This was to be my first water birth.
From transition, I had been leaning forwards against the wall even in between contractions, but at some point I turned and leaned my back against the wall.
At some point, I was getting sweaty with the contractions but couldn't cool off because of the warm water. Jon suggested putting cooler water in and that helped, plus he gently rubbed my forehead, arms and shoulders with a wet cloth. I knew I needed him for the birth, and God provided for that even in the midst of testing my faith that He would take care of me no matter what.
I asked Beth to check to see if it was ok to push, and she said that there was still a bit of cervix left, but that I could try to gently bear down and see if that pushed it out of the way. Since I'd had trouble with cervical lips before, I decided to try to wait a bit before bearing down, but I'm sure it was pretty soon that I was pushing. Talking to Beth later, it turns out she meant I was 8cm, and there was no lip, but she's sure I went to 10 in a contraction and a half.
Jon held me up under the arms, and I pushed my feet against the opposite wall of the tub. It turned out to be a rather awkward position for him, but I was completely unaware of that part of me at the time. He said if he had let go, I'd have sunk down in the water.
I felt the pop when my water broke, but since I was already in water, I announced in a push-voice growl “water broke” in case they didn't notice.
Crowning really hurt and I yelled, “Ow, ow, ow!” a lot. It was concerning to Jon – he couldn't stand to hear me in pain like that. I really thought I had yelled like that at Noah's birth, but even then, he said he didn't remember me yelling. As I think about it more, I really think that crowning is my very worst part of labor and this time I just let myself yell about it. It always hurts like a burning fire and I always just want it to be over and get that baby OUT and in my arms.
Part of the trouble was that his head did not come fully out right away. Later, Beth told me that his chin was stuck and she had to help work it out. There you go! The Wightman chin that is so recognizable to that side of the family got stuck! Like when a tshirt gets stuck when you pull it over your head...
There was a bit more pushing for the shoulders (I was thinking, “why doesn't he just come OUT!?!”) and then blessedly the rest of the baby slid into the water. Beth and Kate helped me pick him up out of the water and then I got to hold and admire and goggle at my little guy.
It took a bit of confusion before Faith announced the sex. I thought it was because of the cord in the way and being underwater, but it turns out she was trying to look at the back of his head to see if he had long hair! When she saw short hair at the back, she said, “It's a boy!” Well, at least that turned out to be right, and so we had a little biology lesson later and didn't have to do it at the birth. I guess I didn't quite prepare my youngest ones as much as I have in the past... I really did think she knew the best way to tell if a baby is a boy or girl. I only let myself look after her announcement and confirmed, yes, it was a boy! I was only slightly less surprised than when Jonathan had announced Faith being a girl. Faith has a little brother as she had wanted!
I enjoyed him in the water for a while but they kept having to put dry blankets on him as the blankets soaked through.
After I pushed the placenta out, Beth put it in a bowl to examine and she showed it to us. An interesting thing about it was there was a ridge around the placenta where the sac membrane attached – like it had folded over itself at the joining place. Most of the sac was there, but it turned out that I did retain a piece of membrane for a day, which was another first for me.
Then Beth clamped and cut the cord and someone took the baby and wrapped him in dry blankets while I got out and attempted to go to the bathroom. Nothing happened there, and I headed for the bed to hold my baby skin to skin and enjoy our new family together. Everyone gathered on the bed to get a close look at their new little cute brother.
I had had no concept of time and had to ask when he had been born – 3 am, Wednesday, February 13.
His finger and toe nails were already long and he had just a little vernix left. He was ready, even if he seemed early to us! But he had waited for Daddy and Grandma and Dad-o and that was God's mercy to me.
Jon then fell deeply asleep on the bed beside me and Joy followed soon, though she startled every once in a while and made sure I was still there.
I was so happy that I wasn't very tired yet. It is amazing to me every time how they can come out so perfectly formed. I know it's not a guarantee and I'm so incredibly blessed.
He nursed on both sides with a good latch – a slow, exploratory nurse, but he stayed on for a long time. He passed some meconium and I didn't notice till I'd smeared it around a bit, so Beth used bunch of wipes in the cleanup.
He was so calm and alert – he looked around a lot and hardly cried. But he cleared out his lungs well enough anyway. He did cry at the measuring, probably because he was cold.
I was surprised that he was only 8 lb 2 oz because he seemed bigger than Joy had. I remember thinking how small she was. I suspect they have different builds, especially head size. Now that I have had more time to examine him, I do think his hips and legs are small, but his head is bigger. He was 20 1/2” long, which is only 3/4” and 1 oz bigger than Joy's stats.
Then I had everybody pack up their things since we usually like to rest at home, but I wish I had known how deeply asleep Jon was and I would have let him and Joy sleep longer. It took some effort to wake him up when everyone else was ready and he had to buy some coffee for the drive home. We left at 5:30am.
But we made it home fine a little after six – Mom got me some chicken rice soup and Jon wrote some announcements and we were back asleep at 7:00.
This amazing content baby slept for three hours, though I had to go to the bathroom every hour. He did some good nursing that morning – a good latch and quick pace. I could hear him swallowing.
He slept a lot and was awake and looking around a lot. And he can settle himself. An amazing baby!
We hadn't really talked or thought about boy names. Jonathan had voted for Peter or Henry but the baby didn't look like either. As soon as Jon mentioned “Jeremiah” I liked it, but we took a while on the middle name. Jon couldn't find our Baby Name book and the online sites are more annoying to browse. But then I asked Jon what he thought of Jeremiah Patrick and he said he'd thought about that, too. We took more time to think and to look up meanings, and that was what we decided on! Jeremiah means “God uplifts” and Patrick means “Noble” or “Son of the Noble One”.
Jon read Jeremiah 1:4-10 at our traditional private naming dedication and prayed for him. Then we gathered the family and officially introduced them to the newest member of the family – Jeremiah Patrick Daley.