Birth…..every one is different, every one unique. The best laid plans…..well you know.
Joshua David Joramo arrived, exactly 8 months ago today, August 15th, 2014 at 3:59 pm. What a day it was! As with our last birth, we approached his due date a little more lightly, more like a “due month”. So generally speaking he was due in August, however I was *really* hoping for a July baby for a couple of reasons. One is simply ridiculous. We already had birthdays in May & June, and August-October. July would fill that in nicely. The other was that we had a family reunion scheduled in the Black Hills for August 13-17. This reunion mind you had been booked 1 year in advance. There was no changing it. So with an EDD of August 11th, we were not quite sure what this would mean.
I kept in close contact with the resort in the last couple of weeks leading up to our arrival date. They have a policy about late cancellations and were being very gracious that they would not charge us if we had to cancel last minute.** I started having some decent prodromal labor in early July. I thought maybe we would get that July baby after all! No. Just weeks and weeks and weeks of prodromal labor.
Now I understand the purpose and function of prodromal labor, but seriously it messes with your head! We were planning a home birth, a family reunion, and hoping to coordinate two doulas and a midwife as well as the other 5 kids….well….this pregnant mama’s mind was going a little crazy. I was so thankful for my doulas who kept checking in on my sanity and reminding me gently that baby would pick his or her birthday and whoever was supposed to be there, would be there.
August 11th came and went. No baby. 2 days until the Black Hills. Do we stay? Do we go? My two oldest girls had worked hard and earned money to pay for a horse lesson at the resort. I REALLY didn’t want to let them down. I had relatives coming from North Dakota and Indiana I really wanted to see. I REALLY wanted to go. After much conferring with my care provider, doulas, friends, and family we decided to go. After all, it’s only 4 hours from Mitchell. *smirk*
We packed up our suburban and headed west! We took our time getting there, spent time at Wall Drug, and just enjoyed our “last hurrah” before our family dynamic changed again. We rolled in at supper time on Wednesday night the 13th. We spent some time with the family and then got everyone to bed. The next day we relaxed, swam, ate and had some Vitamin D therapy. Do you know how GOOD swimming felt on this very pregnant mama?! I did have one little girl ask me if I was pregnant or what. She then promptly yelled across the pool to her mother, “MOM! She is!” That was interesting.
In the afternoon I started feeling a little sick to my stomach. I wasn’t sure if it was something I had eaten or if this was beginning of labor. I was having sporadic contractions as well so I put myself on couch rest in the cabin and they brought me supper while family took my kids swimming. They had a great time swimming in the dark and closing the pool down while I decided if this was worth going home for. We did bring everything with us in case we didn’t make it home, but I really wanted my birth team present! My husband was a bit apprehensive and wanted to go home, but remember the kids’ horse lesson? That was set for the next morning. I did NOT want them to miss what they had worked so hard for. So I went to bed.
About 4am I woke up needing to use the bathroom and having some more contractions. Remember being sick to my stomach the previous afternoon? Well, it continued….a lot. I decided to run a bath – and since I wasn’t sure how well it had been cleaned prior to our arrival, promptly scrubbed the tub with my cleaner I brought from home. Because that makes sense. *snort* I soaked for a couple of hours with contractions growing a bit stronger, but no real pattern. Around 6am my husband woke up, found me in the tub, and announced we were going home. He started packing up and while I showered and my cousin made me breakfast he loaded our suburban with the bulk of our stuff. My cousin had driven out separately so we loaded anything baby related into her car and hit the road by 8:30 am. My mother, my aunts, and my cousin then proceeded to finish packing our SUV and get my kids ready to come home. The plan was for them to be present for the birth. The big girls were scheduled to have their horse lesson at 10 am, it would last an hour, and then my cousin would bring the kids home. Another really cool part of this story is how my family gathered around my kids and cousin and prayed over them for a safe trip. My daughter asked if they would pray that they didn’t miss the birth. What my uncle prayed for was that they would not miss out on the joy. I absolutely love how he protected her faith in that way.
We left and I started tracking my contractions with my app on my phone. They were growing longer and stronger but I was confident we’d make it home. Somewhere along the way there was bumper to bumper standstill construction traffic. Of course. It is August in South Dakota after all. I labored all the way home by reclining the seat all the way back and hugging a body pillow laying on my side. I was sitting on a wedge pillow with a chux pad, just in case. It was actually quite comfortable and I dozed off and on all the way home. We stopped somewhere and my husband purchased me some smart water and snacks for himself, but I honestly don’t remember where! Wall maybe? The only place I got out was at Al’s Oasis in Chamberlain, so that I could use the bathroom. Have you ever been there? There’s *2* stalls in the ladies restroom. Right before we got there a tour bus pulled up. I waited a LONG time to use that restroom all while listening to some senior citizens talk about their pedometers and how many steps they had taken that day. No one really noticed the VERY pregnant, VERY much in labor woman who needed to pee.
I made it out of Al’s and ate some fresh fruit my husband had purchased for me. We continued home and made it back home around 2 pm. Bear in mind, there is the time change from MST to CST in this trip. I was pretty comfortable in the car so I opted to just stay there for a bit while my husband went in to start filling the birth pool. We had been in contact with our midwife and doula all the way home, so everyone knew what was happening. Unfortunately my second doula was out of state with her family, something we knew was a possibility when we talked early on in my pregnancy. However I received a super supportive text from her, something I really appreciated. Knowing that you have awesome folks praying for you is so encouraging!
I hung out in the car for a half hour or so until I felt like I wanted to come in. Before we left we had inflated the pool and hooked up the hose so if we needed to come home quickly all we would have to do is fill it. Good thing we did! My husband was filling the pool and it was well on its way. I opted to lay on the couch for a bit and tried to just let my muscles relax and let the contractions do their work. When I finally felt like I let myself melt into the couch, my water broke. I headed to the bathroom and while I was sitting there, I shook and went through transition. At this point it’s a bit after 3pm and none of my birth team had arrived yet. Being our sixth baby, my husband handled it all like a pro, all the while being in contact with my cousin with our kids, our midwife, our doula, and our birth photographer.
He got me into the pool where I continued to labor with growing intensity. I was so in the zone I didn’t even hear my doula arrive, or my midwife 5 minutes after that. I vaguely remember my doula offering some affirmations, but things were happening! She looked at me, and asked my husband if he still wanted to be in the pool supporting me while I leaned on him. He said yes, and hopped in behind while I rested against him. He gave me his hands and I interlaced my fingers with his and gripped his hand as the contractions rippled through. I felt the urge to push and with the first one they told me there was hair! With the second I felt great progress, yet wanted it to just be over. I made the decision to continue pushing while out of a contraction. Recognizing what was happening my doula gently reminded me to “listen to my body.” Yep, she was right. I relaxed and waited for the next contraction. Shortly thereafter my baby was born gently into the water. My midwife told me to pick up and put baby on my chest, but my hands were so weak from gripping my husband’s so hard, I was afraid I would drop the baby! My midwife grabbed him and put him on my chest and covered him with a warm towel. I was so thankful that I listened to my doula about pushing, because for the first time ever, I did not tear! All that “lift your chin up and just breathe” business was good for me. *smile*
My kids hadn’t made it home yet, but we knew they were close. We opted to wait until they got home to look and see if we’d had a boy or girl. Minutes after baby was born my photographer walked in. She was so amazing and captured the best images of the kids seeing that they finally had a little brother. She had been taking care of her nieces and had quickly found arrangements for them as well as her own children in order to make it to my birth. I don’t know if she will ever fully know how significant that was to me and how precious her images are.
My kids arrived home to find mom and dad in the living room in a pool and a new baby on my chest. They were so excited and not one bit disappointed that vacation was cut short. We lifted the towel to do a gender reveal and my almost 7 year old son exclaimed “I finally got my boy!” With four sisters he was pretty excited for some more testosterone in the house.
The moments following Josh’s birth were so precious. Family and friends were texted and started popping in, all while my birth team took care of the details. Ever watch a doula clean, deflate, and put away a birth pool? Pretty amazing. I think she did it in about 4.2 minutes. She also unpacked the cooler with vacation food and played Jenga in my fridge with the random containers. My midwife was so great as she quietly took care of everything that needed to be done all while we entertained and celebrated with friends. My photographer captured all the joy on each of my children’s faces, and of each friend that stopped by. She snapped precious candid’s of my doula and midwife looking at my son with expressions that are timeless.
While many thought we were absolutely nuts to go on vacation while “overdue”, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. What a story Josh has! Leaving the resort in the Black Hills and being born at home in Mitchell just 6.5 hours later? God’s timing was perfect and he provided direction and peace in our decision. We were able to see our family, the girls got to have their horse lesson, and we were able to relax a little. While I was sad that my other doula was not able to be there, once she returned home that weekend she came and just sat and talked with me. So many precious moments with those so precious to me, all rolled into one birth. God is good.
*Photo credit to Birdseye Imagery
**We had prepaid our four nights’ stay and the resort was amazing and refunded us the two nights that we ducked out on. J How cool is that? God totally had his hand on even the tiniest details.