Friday, June 3, 2011

Wolves and Bears and Pox, Oh My! Seth's Birth Story

Seth: The Day He Was Born

Seth is our fifth child, and at the time I was due with him I was the Cub Scout Den Leader in our ward.  I was a very enthusiastic Cubber. Attending Round Tables and Pow Wows for ideas and inspiration, collecting egg cartons and juice cans for projects. I even taught myself to use Andy's woodworking tools so I could help them make birdhouses and toolboxes. Then I got really crazy and decided to recruit some more boys from the community so we would have bigger dens and spread the fun. We set up a table at the elementary school with our enticing display and stacks of brochures. And we ended up with TWELVE NEW CUB SCOUTS!! Crazy yes?

So as I was coming down the home stretch with Seth, I was herding a big group of boys through our rough and tumble den meetings every week. And then, the chicken pox came to visit. First Scott and Siara went through them, then two weeks to the day later, the pox struck Shanna and Spencer. It was so miserable for them and a little challenging for their mother being great with child, to lean over the bathtub and slather them with oatmeal or reach all the itchy spots with Caladryl and sooth them through their feverish nights.I was worried about the baby being exposed to chicken pox in utero but my midwife assured me that my immunities would protect him.

We had changed insurance since I had Spencer and I had a wider range of choice than I had before with Kaiser, so I decided to go with a midwife: Ann Morten. I felt like we were kindred spirits--she had five children and I was having my fifth. She was an advocate of herbal and natural remedies and we enjoyed discussing the mothering arts and she was interested in my Grandmother's herbal remedies. She also told me about her adventures as a young mom serving a mission for her church with her husband in Guatemala. She encouraged me to bring the other kids in to hear the baby's heartbeat and she was really like a good friend and not just a medical provider.

 One week before Seth was born I went in for my appointment and she couldn't get a heartbeat. She brought in a portable ultrasound (very new technology at the time) and did a quick look. I had not had an ultrasound up to that point with Seth so I didn't know what we were having. As she looked around, I was pretty sure I saw compelling evidence that he was a boy although Ann wouldn't commit. But more important, we saw his little heart beating away and he began kicking and wiggling. Speaking of which, he was the wiggliest little baby. All through the pregnancy he would wear me out at night with his acrobatics. She asked me if I wanted her to strip the membranes--sometimes it will kick-start labor. The last few weeks of pregnancy are so exhausting and I felt so miserable and sore it made labor and delivery look good! I said yes please and she did. I started having contractions on the way home from the clinic and got my hopes up that maybe that was it. But, it was a false alarm. 

I was really hoping that it was labor because I had been asked to speak in church that Sunday-- Easter Sunday--I was thinking maybe it would give me a good excuse to get out of the talk. Not that I am advocating getting out of doing what you are asked--just for the record--I was just a tired, pregnant mama. So, I dragged my pregnant self out of bed on Easter morning and got my four precious children ready and off to church. I waddled up to the pulpit and gave my talk--joking that I was in labor and if I had the baby there on the stand, it was the Bishop's fault for asking a nine month pregnant woman to speak. 

It turned out that real labor started the following Thursday late in the afternoon. There was an open house and ice cream social at Dorothy Fox Elementary school where Scott was in the 2nd grade. I really wanted to go for his sake--he had been looking forward to it for weeks. The contractions were steady but not getting any closer together. We had ice cream and visited Scott's classroom and talked to his teacher. My good friend Linda was "on call" to take the kids when I had the baby and I saw her there. I told her I was planning to go to the hospital after the open house and she said to bring the kids over. So when we got home, we packed over-night bags for everyone and dropped them off at "The Lindas" as they called her and her bunch. 

We got to the hospital at 8:30 and I realized we had not had time for Andy to give me a blessing, so we took care of that there in the car in the parking lot. He blessed me that it "would go quickly and with a minimum of pain". Then we went in and I got checked--I was dilated to 5.  They called our midwife and we walked around while they prepped the birthing room. When we got into the room, I was at 8+. Our midwife had been out having a romantic dinner with her husband on their boat. She had to get to shore and then to the hospital. She came in and dimmed the lights and she was so calm and relaxed it completely put me at ease. She and Andy chit-chatted while I went quickly into transition. It was only two hard pushes for the head and one for the rest of him. And there he was! He started hollering immediately--he had lots of black hair and a very red, angry face--he seemed unhappy to be pushed out so fast into the cold world. Andy got to participate more in the delivery than he had with the first four children and he cut the cord.. I held Seth right away and he calmed down. I wrote in my journal that "he was so warm and slippery but beautiful and wonderful". I didn't ask if he was a boy or girl--or even look to see. Andy did that and announced "A boy! Another boy!" He weighed 7 lbs. 7 oz. and was 19" long. He was the smallest of our babies and he actually fit into newborn undershirts. 



He was born at 11:35 and by the time we were all cleaned up and tucked in for the night, I started feeling really warm. As the night wore on, I couldn't sleep because I was burning up. I buzzed for the nurse and asked her to turn the heat down. She saw that it wasn't even on and then checked my temperature. I had a fever. She decided to drown the fever with water and other beverages and began forcing me to drink about a gallon every hour (that is only a slight exaggeration). I was so delirious I didn't care. I nursed Seth each time he woke up and got up to go to the bathroom many times and somehow made it through the night. They wouldn't discharge me until my fever went down, so I had to stay all the next day. By late afternoon, Seth  had a slightly elevated temperature. I felt better and my fever was gone so I got ready to check out. That was when I was informed that Seth would have to stay in the hospital until his fever went down. The thought of leaving the hospital without my baby dissolved me into tears. I insisted on staying so that I could nurse him. I had no intention of abandoning him to strangers and formula. The nurse looked at me like I was crazy. I told her I would sit in a chair next to his bed or hang out in the waiting room between feedings.  She left and came back with the news that there was a tiny room near the nursery where I could sleep so that I could take care of my baby. Just as I was settling in, the pediatrician came in to talk to me about Seth's condition. After a few minutes he turned to the nurse and said, "This is her fifth child--let her take her baby home and take care of him. She's perfectly capable of giving him the Tylenol."

The Siblings Meeting Their New Baby Brother
So, we bundled up our little Seth and brought him home--as quickly as possible before someone changed their mind. He was happily welcomed by his siblings and settled into our crazy family life. He was born on a Thursday and the following Thursday I took him to Cub Scouts with me. He sat happily in his car seat in the old Scout House in Crown Park where we held our den meetings. I had planned a game of Frisbee baseball to channel some of the boisterous energy of my Pack of Wolves and Bears so we went outside and split up for teams. We were one short so as Den Leader I felt it my duty to take up the slack. We enjoyed a fun game and I even made a home run! Seth sat on the sidelines and slept. I took a bit of teasing later from some of the moms of the boys--they couldn't believe I was out running around so soon after having a baby. It just felt so good not to be pregnant any more.

On May 6th, 13 days after Seth was born, I wrote in my journal: "It is miraculous to give birth and have each child be so precious and instantly take their place in the family. I hold him or look at him in the crib when he's sleeping and I'm overwhelmed with love and amazement that we could be so blessed!" And that pretty much sums it up.






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