Nine Months Long, Nine Months Short
For my own sake, I’m writing a little bit of the back story before the birth. So if you’re here for the actual birth story, stay tuned…this isn’t quite it! I’m still waiting for birth pictures (from photographer), but I figured I’ll go ahead and post this now. 🙂 (I also wrote the majority of this right before and right after Kyrie’s birth, so the months are distanced from Kyrie’s birth, not today.) So much blog-reading (and writing) fell by the wayside as this pregnancy progressed, but I managed to catch Mary Beth’s post at Annapolis and Co. on “The Book I’m Not Writing.” As part of her personal story, she wrote:
“[G]lamorizing the struggle and the conquer is our American version of heroism. At its’ (sic) finest. And it can be misleading. For what do we do with the hikes that end two miles before the peak? How do we find peace with stories that never get written? Are their goals and dreams that should never be conquered, never be realized?“
While my story is quite different than Mary Beth’s, I connected deeply with the realization that, like her, much of our journey that had transpired over previous months was a story of big hikes that ended two miles before their peak, culminating in coming to terms with stories and dreams that we realized weren’t going to be part of this story, and of the new baby’s story, after all.
Nine months ago, life looked very different for me. Only four months prior, we had downsized to an older house that we planned to remodel while living there and turn into a rental when we went overseas. I was working a part-time job that fit my passions and could be done from home, with my kids. I was running fifteen to twenty miles a week, reading tons of book, and in general, somehow balancing my plates with energy and passion. Our hope and goal in working so hard was to return to Ecuador to live for a more extended period. We had a full month, including a family wedding and flying out to Kansas (during which time I also experienced my biggest “mom-fail” to date, and was quite discouraged).
Eight months ago, we learned we were expecting another child. Not a total surprise, but definitely not a specifically planned timing, either. I continued to balance life like I had the previous month, and was excited to make this my “healthiest” and “most fit pregnancy ever.” We realized that if Ecuador was going to be part of the picture, we’d need to go ahead an plan to give birth there. And actually, this was pretty exciting, as our child would have dual citizenship (Ecuador is one of the few countries where birth equals a citizenship opportunity.) So, I got to work researching and planning a move. I was starting to get a little sick by the end of this month, but nothing like previous pregnancies. I thought I would avoid a rougher pregnancy this time around.
Seven months ago, I learned that I was quite wrong. Morning sickness and exhaustion hit something fierce. Although Daniel’s work was done entirely remotely at this time, we had found it created a higher level of productivity for him to work away from home (coffee shop) from around 5:30a.m. to lunchtime, and then finish his remaining work from home in the afternoons (where he could also use dual screens and his office space). It was during this time we learned of my maternal grandmother’s stroke and likelihood she would not live much longer, and we took a last-minute (and morning-sickness miserable) trip to see her one more time. She ended up passing away around a week later, though her funeral was delayed for several weeks. Daniel also unexpectedly lost his main job during this time, and we took a long weekend trip to Disney (planned and payed for prior to knowledge of either of these events). I ended my contract freelance job around this time, too.
Six months ago, we attended my grandmother’s funeral, Daniel was offered a new job (also remote), he took a trip to CO shortly after starting that job, and I was deep into planning our move to Ecuador. We hired a friend’s mother to come help me on Monday mornings, though those were actually my best days, and ended up having her help out on Monday mornings for about four weeks. I prayed for at least a full week of feeling good, but so far it never happened. We also looked for renters to occupy our house while we lived abroad, and realized we probably couldn’t remodel the kitchen before leaving. Daniel also took on an additional freelance job that would later double in work and essentially be another full-time job. I also finally hired a midwife and began appointments, under the expectation that we’d only be seeing her until we left for Ecuador.
Five months ago, our air conditioner and HVAC unit died at our house. It ended up being the hottest week so far (not enjoyable to my still-miserable pregnant self), and we ended up needing to totally replace the HVAC system. Expensive and unexpected is an understatement. We also took a trip to Hilton Head Island (with Daniel still working all but one day). While there, the time away allowed us to realize that it was unlikely we could actually complete all our paperwork for Ecuador visas, tie up loose ends with our rental properties (we also purchased an additional property around this time), and get our current house remodeled to the state it would need to be in to be rented. We made a decision to go ahead and settle in the States for the birth, and also go ahead and purchase a new residence. (We had only planned to stay in our turn-into-a-rental house for a year, but the difficult pregnancy had made it challenging to remodel at a faster pace.)
Four months ago, we had an offer on a new-construction house, but the process ended up taking much longer than expected, so we waited. And waited. My nausea had finally subsided, but now I was hit with incredible exhaustion. We grew to find routine in my girls eating Trader Joe’s GF waffles and watching an hour or two of Amazon Prime kid shows on the iPad. They made sure Justus was fed and I usually got some extra sleep this way. I continued to pray for a full week of feeling good, but it didn’t happen. On the days I felt well, I tried to do fun outings with them…wherever it was cool enough. 🙂
Three months ago, we were still waiting to move, which is not the most pleasant ordeal to walk through while in the third trimester. Again, I continued to pray for a full week of good days, but they never came. Thankfully, I was no longer dealing with nausea, but the fatigue hit me like never before at this point in pregnancy. I had a lot on my “to do” list to do before baby, but realistically had to choose to wait until after we moved.
Two months ago, we finally moved into our new place, and the energy I thought was returning soon ebbed into sheer exhaustion. Not much got done, other than settling into new routines. We did a DIY-move, and are very thankful for the help of a few friends as we did so. Thankfully we moved into a house that was a bit of an upgrade, and so those elements definitely helped as we settled in. Since he was saving up time for post-baby, Daniel didn’t take off any work time through this time, which likely contributed to a little of our tiredness.
One month ago, life took some unexpected turns. My SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) had worsened, making it difficult to walk first thing in the morning. A few days later, Daniel headed to a local urgent care for chest pain, and they wanted him to take an ambulance to the Emergency Room. He was able to sign a waiver to drive himself, but ended up spending the day in the hospital, where they ruled out a heart attack/stroke. He came home, but the next afternoon took a turn for the worse. His fever quickly wiped him out, and he slept all but a few hours over the course of the next three days, when he began to recover, albeit much more slowly than expected.
We are still not sure what happened, but it was a very physically and emotionally intense two weeks surrounding that time, and if not for the help of three of my friends, I am not sure we would have survived. As it was… it was a difficult time. My mom was able to come down and help about a week later, and we gradually began to get our heads above water. And as soon as Daniel was well, he began working Saturday mornings and later evenings in order to try to get a week ahead in order to take time off for the baby. At that point, I realized all my goals for settling in were not as important as I once thought, and I was just thankful to have a husband who was alive and now healthy. But by two weeks before my due date, I started to feel much better than I had for months, and we were able to make a good bit of progress in organizing and settling into our house a little more. Since his birth, Justus had been sleeping with us in our bed, but after finding a twin bed set on Craigslist we went ahead and bought the beds to have on hand, “just in case.” But he was excited about them, and started sleeping in his own room (with Daddy’s assistance). So…I got a week of having my bed to myself before our new baby arrived! 🙂
My friend and doula, Julie, is also a Hypnobabies/Hypnobirth instructor. I had been mildly interested in at least learning about this alternative, though I definitely still viewed it with a bit of skepticism, specifically trying to wrap my mind around it from a Christian perspective. (I don’t agree with some part of this article, but it was helpful to read in light of my background.)
However, once I began to understand that it wasn’t magic or stage hypnosis, I started to grow comfortable with at least taking a class. Still, I felt like I wouldn’t have the mental discipline to make it work. My husband also relayed that he had been practicing this type of self-hypnosis since his teen years to help himself fall asleep; but he’s also incredibly disciplined, and so I still viewed it with skepticism to how it might work for me.
That said, due to our delayed move, I thought I had missed out on the final class opportunity leading up to my “guess date.” So, I was happy when Julie told me that she thought I could take her final September/October class, but simply risk missing the final class(es) if my baby arrived by the due date. And with that, I was in, albeit feeling a tiny bit out of place as a fourth-time mom and the only one to attend without my husband (sad face!).
Pregnancy and childbirth is, inevitably, a spiritual journey for me. Through the nine months to birth, I am, paradoxically, at my weakest and my strongest. It is a time in which I do not know the outcome, in how pregnancy, delivery will go, or what the ultimate health of my child with be. Even with Hypnobabies, so many fears were still present, and I realized that only God would be able to deliver me from my fears. This became my prayer, though I prayed God might use other means (Hypnobabies, miraculous birth, or medical intervention) to do so.