Last Friday, May 3, was a crazy day...to say the least. I woke up to contractions, about 5-6 minutes apart but not painful enough to stop me from getting the kids up and off to school. They had all but faded by the time the kids left for school. I told Ronell to go to work and that I'd call him if things got worse. I spent the morning folding much-neglected laundry, putting the last few things into my hospital bag (hand-quilting project and yes, I did whip it out during my stay), and hanging out with Portia and Teya. The contractions came and went. They were regular for about an hour (10 minutes apart) and then they'd stop for a few hours. This was all new to me. With my other three, the second the contractions started, everything progressed regularly. This little guy just wanted to keep me guessing. When Portia went to school (have I mentioned that I detest half-day Kindergarten) and Teya went down for a nap, I sat down to quilt and had contractions on and off the entire two hours. I called my doctor and he said to come in when they get painful enough that I have to stop what I'm doing and when they're 5-7 minutes apart regularly.
Meanwhile, Ronell left work at noon to pick up Paul Winterowd for a guys weekend with he and Oliver Christensen. We'd been joking for the last two weeks that our baby was just waiting for Paul to come into town to be born. (backstory: When I went into labor with Teya at the end of our BYU MBA experience, Ronell was at Oliver's house playing video games with Paul and Oliver.) But the joke was on me. After picking up Paul and meeting up with Oliver, they went to lunch. All the while, he was checking in with me and seeing how things were going. They were planning on going to see Ironman 3 after lunch and I mentioned that maybe he should come home and go out later. But then, second guessing myself and these ridiculously fickle contractions, I told him to go to the movie, but to "stay close". I suggested they take two cars, just in case. So, off to the movie the boys went.
Because the contractions were painful but not close, I held off on going to the hospital. It was a gorgeous day outside and I thought I'd rather be outside than stuck in a hospital, impatiently waiting for things to start. So, I walked to the bus with my neighbor, Kim, got the kids a snack and sat outside while they played. Contractions were getting more painful, but again still not regular. However, while the kids were watching TV around 4:30, things started to pick up. By 5:00, they were really painful, but I was trying to hide it from my kids. I texted Ronell to come home and he left right away...and got stuck in traffic while rubberneckers watched an accident get cleaned up. Kim came over, sent the kids to watch a movie at her house, and stayed with me (Thanks, Kim!) while the contractions got worse and were on top of each other. Right around 6:00, Ronell pulled up and I hopped into the front seat (Hopped=walked slowly while riding the non-stop contraction waves). As we pulled out of our driveway, I thought, "We're not going to make it." I must have said it out loud, because Ronell kept saying, "Hold on, Hold on. We'll make it." Not more than a mile from our house (and about 10 miles of freeway from the hospital), I had that first urge to push. Again, I must have said that out loud, because Ronell said, "Don't push! We'll make it!" Uh, clearly he had amnesia about the births of our other children. When it's time to push, it's time to push. But I really didn't want to have my baby in the car (HA!), so I tried to breath deeply and said a prayer that our baby would be healthy and make it to the hospital. When I opened my eyes from that prayer, I saw how crazily Ronell was driving (as in up on curbs, driving around red lights, flashing his brights, running the hazards and honking the whole way), I shut my eyes again. By this time we'd made to the freeway and Ronell was flying (85 in a 60!!) down the freeway. True to style, Seattle drivers were taking their time, even in the "Fast" lane. I felt (still had my eyes closed, trying not to push) Ronell change lanes, still honking and flashing his lights. I felt the baby crowning and told Ronell again that I had to push. He just kept saying (I think), "Hold on. We'll make it. I'm sorry. I should have come home earlier." But this baby had decided he was coming and about 3 miles from the hospital exit, I HAD to push. I remember very clearly that once I committed to pushing, I had to do it. So I pushed once and delivered his head. The clear thought came to my mind, "Okay, there's his head, now I need to get his body out." I pushed again and delivered the rest of our pipsqueak. At this point, I realized that I still had my pants on! I quickly pulled down my pants and lifted baby up. My two biggest concerns were to get him breathing and keep him warm. Ronell looked over and I think he said something like, "You just had the baby." Yep, and our baby had a great set of lungs. He started crying almost immediately. I reached back and grabbed Ronell's sweatshirt from the backseat (which, if you know my husband, is a miracle. He keeps his car immaculate and never keeps things in the back seat. The fact that he had a sweatshirt sitting on the backseat was a rare blessing) and started rubbing the baby down.
At this point, we'd exited the freeway and drove to the maternity wing roundabout. Ronell jumped out and ran faster than I've ever seen him (he's pretty fast) into the hospital. I just kept rubbing our little guy and talking to him while he cried. Almost immediately, a couple of doctors and three or four nurses came running out. I handed off the baby to the doctor and she cut the cord (I hadn't delivered the placenta yet) and rushed him inside to get checked out and get warm. I got out of the car (Pretty sure I flashed a few people with my pants around my knees) and got on a gurney. They rushed me into the delivery room and the doctor delivered the placenta and examined me, all while I listened to the healthy cries of our baby boy. Because his core temperature was a little cold, they had me strip and laid him on me. He cried the whole time. Then they realized that they hadn't weighed or measured him, so he was whisked off again to the scale and was quickly returned to my chest. Somehow, after an hour or so, he calmed down and got warm. I listened as Ronell answered the nurse's questions (like what time was he born...uh, we weren't really looking at the clock, lady. I was delivering my baby and Ronell was flying down the freeway) and the L&D nurses try to figure out how to bill our insurance (No charge for delivery, just recovery and a local!). I think they put the baby under the warming lights for a few minutes, but I can't remember. After checking to make sure everything was healthy and that we were comfortable, I was able to nurse the baby and he got a bath. And then things slowed down drastically and Ronell and I were alone and able to talk.
While we didn't have a "normal" birth story, I felt the Lord's hand throughout this experience. I am so grateful that our baby was healthy and head down and that his delivery was smooth and easy (as "easy" as birth is). I'm grateful that we were able to get to the hospital and have no complications. I'm grateful that, since this is the way our baby chose to come, that he was small and had a small head! I'm grateful that Kim, my neighbor, was available and willing to take our kids overnight! I'm grateful for Ronell, who got us to the hospital without any accidents (really that was a miracle). I'm grateful for doctors and nurses, whose training equipped them to handle our situation calmly and efficiently. I'm grateful for the miracle of childbirth and this amazing little boy who has joined our family. He's a good, easy baby who still likes to cry when having his diaper changed or when he's disturbed. He's healthy, strong, and beautiful. I feel so blessed with an amazing husband and four healthy, incredible children. I am grateful to the Lord for His blessings and the big but seemingly insignificant miracles He shows us. I know that He rejoices in our joyful moments. I have felt His hand in my life so many times and this incredible birth just reminds me that He is mindful of me and each of His children.
The only "delivery" picture we have. The doctor clamping Thatcher's cord before taking him inside.
Thatcher David Hugh.
About 2 hours after delivery, he finally calmed down.
Getting weighed and measured. 6 lbs. 14 oz. 17.5 in. He's a pipsqueak.
Hanging out under the warming lights.
Meeting the crazies. They haven't stopped trying to hold him since he was born.
Teya and Thatcher. She kept telling us all to be soft and be quiet.
Portia and the pipsqueak. She wanted to hold him the whole time they visited.
Palmer was a little concerned about me and why I was in the hospital, despite the fact that we talked about it beforehand...all the time. He wanted to sit on my "cool" bed and cuddle. He wins for best phrase of the visit: "He's so little and precious."
Hanging with Dad after the chaotic trio left.
We sat by this window a lot during the hospital stay. Thatcher liked the light and I hated missing all the beautiful weather outside.
Thatcher and Nona.
Cuddling with Papa, aka the baby hog. When he wasn't cuddling with Thatcher, Papa was playing the pied piper with all the neighborhood kids. They all loved playing outside with him.
Four days old and he already found his thumb.