Having carried your brother and sister each to thirty nine weeks and one day, and given their sizes at birth (9 lbs. and 9 lbs. 2 oz., respectively), I never imagined carrying you past that timeline. I knew it was possible we’d wait longer for you, but I was telling myself we’d get to mid-September and be ready to go. This is probably how I coped (quite happily) through the heat of summer and the start of a new school year and changes galore. You were coming soon, and surely before month’s end. You were “due” on September 29th.
On the 12th of September, I started laboring with you. I wasn’t confident at first, but when my contractions increased in intensity and grew closer and closer together, I was at least sure that we were making progress toward your birthday. That week, I messaged our friend and birth photographer four days into “contractions on and off since Monday.” “I’m not sure we’ll see any real movement until next week,” I texted her, “but my gut says to just let you know…” It’s easy to doubt yourself when you’re a doula and you feel unable to predict or determine your own labor, and you kept me guessing, sweet boy. My contractions were legitimate–not stopping after glasses of water or laying on my side like Braxton Hicks, and they continued to move closer and closer together each round, every day. They would feel like progress, and then they’d stop. Some days the surges would go on for a few hours, and at their longest, I labored for 16 hours, sure we were nearing our trip to the hospital, only for my contractions to dissipate in a discouraging and uneventful end.
I felt like a roller coaster. I repeatedly felt like the boy who cried “Wolf!” texting the same few who needed to know, almost every time I thought we were nearing your entrance. I was emotionally and physically and mentally exhausted, and I leaned heavily on the grace of those around me to get through the days and nights, trying to prepare for you, trying to be a good mama to Henry and Eloise, and trying to keep myself focused on the things I’d been believing and praying so diligently for as we approached your birth.
It seems worth mentioning that you were breech for a long time in utero, and after trying every possible technique I knew or could get my hands on for about five weeks, you turned obligingly and in your own timing at thirty six weeks. There were many times after that day (I’m pretty sure you turned in the early morning hours while I was only sort of awake to notice 😉 ) that you seemed settled in more of a transverse position–not ideal for a natural birth but certainly still capable of shifting in a matter of days or weeks. I felt so aware of you then, as I had all through my pregnancy. It was beautiful and trying, as I prayed and prayed over you, your alignment and your passage into this world.
I was holding steadfastly to the truth that God could bring us both through your birth without pain or incident. I know it probably sounds crazy, but truly, believing that God could do miraculous things is what I know for certain carried us both through. His promises, read, prayed, spoken, repeated over you, were like manna day after day. I needed something to cling to when I would labor and then not progress, and while I may never be able to adequately articulate what God did in my heart through you in those weeks before you came, I am absolutely confident that my deep, deep place of desperation in the pressing and waiting only drew me closer to our good, good Father. I am so grateful to you for that!
In all of this, there were so many factors playing into the dynamic–and into your story. Gramma Teresa was making her way to us, your daddy was working in his new role over an hour away, we were trying to enter into new fall routines and fitting in as much as we could in the days that came. And did they ever come! I busied myself with your big brother and sister as much as possible, trying to keep things “normal” as I wandered around town having contractions hour after hour, day after day. I was certain my water was just going to break in the middle of things, and I’d stopped caring about that a few days in. All bets were off on timing and circumstances. Thirty nine weeks and one day came and went, and so I carried amazing little you for as many days as God’s grace allowed.
I have a good many distinct memories of the two and a half weeks leading up to your birth, and for good reason. At night I would sit on the exercise ball in the living room, bouncing gently and rocking back and forth for an hour or more while I talked with your daddy and your gramma about when you might come. I faced adrenaline surges that left me feeling a mile high and then drained to the point of tears. I hashed out worries and silenced fears over and over again. God was exercising spiritual muscles I didn’t even know I had!
What I did know? I knew I was more and more amazed at the idea of you all of the time. You felt close and known, but mysterious and tucked away. I knew I wanted to treasure every bit of time I had with you inside, but also that I felt so beyond ready to meet you and to end the weeks of discomfort and insecurity I faced when my confident mama game wasn’t strong.
While we waited, we continued to stay busy with all that we could. That time with your gramma (my mama) was sweet and sacred. We shopped for fabrics to make you a quilt. (I stood at the counter in labor while they cut samples for us to take home. ) We prepped meals. We talked for hours. Gramma was very patient with my impatient self, and she kept up with so much around the house and with your siblings when I couldn’t. Each day, it felt like we were waiting for the most wonderful surprise in the world, and we were! You and Henry and Eloise have all been worth waiting for in more ways than I could ever say.
Does it feel like it’s taking me a long time to get down to your actual birth, sweet baby? It did. Truly. It took a long, long time. But God was so faithful, you know that? All of that work my body was doing, and all of the work you were doing inside to change position and get situated to where you need to be? That was God honoring my every prayer and hope–I just didn’t know it yet!
As I look back on all of those days in the waiting, I can see where God intervened to afford you (us!) the most healthy, safe birth possible. You didn’t come until you were ready, because you couldn’t physically make your way into position for a long while. I remember telling your daddy and gramma one night that it felt like your head was just completely stuck; I kept trying to press in one exact spot to help you move, but things just wouldn’t budge. For the last week or so that I carried you, I’d get that same sensation over and over again. I can still imagine it now, so distinct and consistent. Little man, you were working so hard!
I don’t know what kept you there for so long, but I do trust that God’s hand was in it, without a doubt. We were in prodromal labor together, working as a team, you and I. As it was, we just kept going, and in God’s grace and timing, there was stamina to move us both through it. There is such a sweetness to it all now as I think on those nights–walking, rocking, pleading, wondering, worshipping, waiting…
Tomorrow, the details of your birthday, Crosby Eames! (And Becky’s pictures…Oh! I can’t wait to share them with you!)
love you deeply,