I found out I was pregnant with Josh at my brother's wedding. I took a test 5 days before my period, in the typical impatient style of someone who wants desperately to be pregnant. The lines appeared so quickly and boldly dark, that I thought for sure I must be having twins. Every other time I'd had a positive test that early, it was FAINTLY positive. As in, you had to hold it in the light at a certain angle to see the second line. But this was shockingly positive. So much so that I was a bit frantic about the prospect of twins until my first ultrasound revealed just one little gummy bear snuggled in my womb. My dad is a fraternal twin, so I pretty much had this thought during every pregnancy though. But I have to admit, the thought of twins when I was on baby #4 was particularly terrifying.
I didn't tell anyone except Jamie and my sister, not wanting to steal the spotlight from my brother and his lovely bride. But now that we live in Oklahoma, far FAR away from my parents, I couldn't pass up my one chance to tell them in person. So on Sunday, after the wedding, we sat my parents down and said, "We have an announcement." And that's as far as I got before they exploded in happiness. My dad even started crying. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect and wonderful reaction. It was such a relief. I knew they would be happy and supportive, but 4 kids is officially a BIG family now days, and not everyone celebrates that. But my parents did. And it was the BEST.
I tried to cherish being pregnant with Josh. After the first trimester anyway, because really, who can cherish anything when you're nauseous and exhausted all the time. And I typically get a near constant headache from the crazy hormones in those first few weeks too. So, that was particularly fun considering I had the other three to chase all day. Fortunately, Jamie's current job keeps him home working regular hours. Having him around makes everything easier. Anyway, I knew this would be my last chance, so I did my best to soak it all in. And Josh was a lovely pregnancy. I was nearly all belly. He was a gentle kicker. I didn't gain a ton of weight or get massively huge. The whole thing was just easy. Easy for being pregnant, anyway.
I thought Josh would be a small baby. At least small for me. The others were 8lb 9oz, 9lb 8oz, and 8lb 3oz. But I felt tiny this time. I mean, I kind of was. Definitely nowhere near the size I was with Jake. Here's a reference. I was 39 weeks in both these pictures. Jake is the left, Josh is the right. I expected him to be the 8lb range. He was not. Apparently your body gets better at accommodating/hiding the baby by #4.
We live an hour away from the hospital where I gave birth. This worried me my entire last trimester. All I could think about was the misery of dealing with contractions while trapped in the car for AN HOUR. And even worse, I had dreams about giving birth on the side of the road. I mean, I was only in labor with Katie for FOUR hours. I expected this one to come quick. Especially since I felt like he was smaller. So, I bought a book on Hypnobirthing. And you can say what you want, but it helped immensely. I wound up being induced on my due date so no hasty car rides in labor. But listening to the Hypnobirthing albums DID help me relax and go to sleep at night during the uncomfortable final weeks. And the book was very convincing and encouraging that labor could be much more tolerable if you just stay relaxed. So I decided to try to forgo the epidural this time with the aid of Hypnobirthing. And in the end, I did, though maybe not the way I had intended.
I went in for my induction and they started the Pitocin. About an hour later my doctor came in and broke my waters. I was still barely at 4cm at this point. The contractions were pretty bearable, especially with the Hypnobirthing breathing techniques and I was staying pretty relaxed. I tried the birthing ball this time and it was great. But, the monitor kept slipping off of Josh and they made me get back in bed. Boo. So, I had been at it for about 3 hours and I didn't seem to be progressing very quickly. I'm going to be completely honest here. I just didn't feel like dealing with it anymore. Breathing and relaxing through contractions took effort and I didn't want to do this FOREVER. So, I asked for the epidural. And waited for the anesthesiologist. And while I was waiting, the contractions intensified. A LOT. About 10 minutes later, I started feeling pressure when I contracted, so the nurse checked me. I was suddenly at an 8 and she said, "Are you sure you want the epidural? This baby will probably be here within the hour." I panicked at this point, because those contractions suddenly REALLY SUCKED and I was pretty sure having this baby was going to hurt and I'd rather have an epidural, and in a hurry, thank you. I mean, guys, I dilated 4 cm in a couple of minutes there. My mom and mother-in-law were there for the birth, but the nurse made them leave while I got the epidural. Just a side note, I had told the nurse a few times by now that I have babies really fast once I start pushing. And I had asked if she'd called the doctor once or twice while all this was going on. She dismissed my question, which made me panic even more. Because I KNEW how this was going to play out. I had lived this scenario three times already.
Anyway, so the anesthesiologist finally gets there and I'm sitting there trying to be still. But I have to PUSH. She takes her SWEET TIME while I'm sweating like mad, trying not to PUSH, completely freaking out. I finally say, "I HAVE TO PUSH!" So, they tape up the epidural site, because she got the needle in but didn't have time to actually medicate me, and had me lay back on the bed. You hear that?! I got an epidural but essentially had an un-medicated birth ANYWAY. So, THIS is when the nurse calls my doctor. NOW. When I HAVE to PUSH. And she then proceeds to say DON'T PUSH! This woman is my enemy. So I'm breathing through it for all I'm worth. But people. When you have to push. You HAVE TO PUSH. My mom and MIL come back in at this point, unaware that I am like, IN IT at this point. They expected a calm, medicated Mary. NOT a somewhat hysterical Mary trying to breathe instead of push. So I would breath and try not to push until my body would take over and push anyway. And Josh was coming. OH he was COMING. And my mom told me later that this crazy nurse was like, obviously freaking out and looked like she was having to resist the urge to physically put her hand on Josh's head to stop him from coming out. Anyway, she just kept saying "DON'T PUSH!!" And I keep trying until I JUST HAD TO. And I could feel Josh moving down. Which was a terrifying feeling because I knew the part that really hurts was upon me. Finally (really only probably like 7 minutes) the doctor came in the door as the nurse was again saying "Don't push!" and he said, "PUSH!" before he'd even positioned himself between my legs. It was the best thing I'd ever heard. So I did. And it hurt. But Josh was out two pushes later. All 9lbs 1oz of him. And it was the biggest rush of relief I've ever felt. The doctor plopped him up on my stomach while Jamie cut the cord. He was purple and warm. I cried happy tears and rubbed his back and told him not to hold his breath. He didn't even want to cry. Already my calm, sweet boy. He pinked up quickly and I encouraged him to nurse a few minutes later. It was awesome. I felt like superwoman. I was up walking within the hour. Fastest recovery ever.
And two day later I got to bring him home. And have spent the rest of his life protecting him from his adoring siblings.
My sweet little buddy. What a blessing he is.