|Spencer: The Hospital Picture|
We thought our family was complete after three children. That is really the tipping point for parents--the third child leaves you outnumbered and in our case, they were close in age so we were feeling physically exhausted with the demands of our three active, busy young 'uns. But after Shanna was potty-trained and things began to feel a little calmer, I felt like there were more who were supposed to come to our family.
When I was expecting Spencer, I was serving as the Primary President in our ward. Our ward was growing and our Primary had doubled in the few months after I started. The weeks leading up to his birth were filled with "record highs" in the weather. We didn't have air conditioning at home--it really wasn't necessary most years in the rainy, cool Northwest--but since I was pregnant, of course it had to be the hottest summer anyone could remember. According to my journal, I sweated my way through Primary every Sunday. Although the church was air conditioned, we were crowded into the small Primary room of the Washougal building where the warmth from all those wiggly children and my very pregnant self generated more heat than the air conditioning could push out.
Spencer's due date had been changed from August 12th to July 27th after an ultrasound because he was so big. This was the first ultrasound I had ever had so I trusted in their expertise and mentally prepared for birth at the end of July. But that date came and went with no sign of labor. About 10 days before he was born, it was 99 degrees on Sunday and after church I started having contractions. It turned out to be false labor brought on by dehydration. I was instructed to drink more and try to get some rest.
We had agreed on a name after some debate amongst the children. I thought we should end the "S" thing and branch out. I was out-voted. The three older children thought he would feel left out and it wouldn't be fair. So they convinced me that we should continue our tradition and we chose Spencer for his name. He was named for a beloved prophet : Spencer W. Kimball and it's also a family name on my Dad's side. His middle name is Matthew after Matthew in the Bible--a faithful disciple of the Savior.
So another week of record highs went by. I had dragged home a big wading pool for the kids earlier in the summer which we set up in the back yard. They spent those hot days playing in the cool water and enjoying Otter Pops. When the heat became unbearable, I joined them and became the big beached whale in the middle of their fun.
My presidency and I had planned a Primary Activity for August 14th. Naturally, that is the day I went into real labor. I tried to convince my fellow Primary compadres that I could handle my part of the activity--I figured I would be in labor all day and might as well be doing something to take my mind off of it. But my counselor who was the mother of six told me to stay home and they would take care of it. "We don't want the Primary Activity to turn into a birthing activity!" she said.
So, I paced around my house. I had already thoroughly nested--the crib was set up and ready and I had cleaned and scrubbed and organized in spite of the construction chaos that was a constant in our lives.After consistent contractions all day, I fed the kids dinner and waited for Andy to get home from work. Our across the street teen-age neighbor, Antje (who was more of a beloved big sister) came over to stay with the older three and we headed for the hospital.
When we got up to the labor and delivery area, I wanted to cry. The place was in the middle of a big renovation and it was a mess. Walls were torn down, insulation was hanging from the ceiling, a nurse went by with a bin of dirty laundry. There was no place to sit while we waited to be checked into a room. There were three other women standing there with me. One was in a lot of distress and her husband was begging for a chair for her. It's stressful enough to be in labor but to have paid good money for insurance and thinking you live in a civilized world and time and expecting a nice, clean, hospital birth only to find yourself in the middle of a construction zone had put everyone over the edge.
I did what I usually do in difficult circumstances, I told myself "It could be worse." And took deep breaths.
I was the last to be put into a room--the squeaky wheel gets the grease as they say. I was fine with that because I didn't want to be tied to a monitor too soon. My labor room had bare studs along one wall which they had covered with what looked like burlap. But it seemed clean and I figured I wouldn't be in there for long. Andy hadn't had a chance to eat so he went to the hospital cafeteria and I got hooked up to an IV. Unfortunately, I got a rookie doing the needle work and she informed me she was really bad at getting the needle in. She was right. She managed to get my blood all over both of us, the sheets and the floor. She's lucky I didn't have any dread diseases to share.
By then it was about 10:30. It felt like labor was taking forever. I didn't make any note in my journal of dilation so I don't know what my progress was. I must have been far enough along for them to keep me. I loved the nurse that was on duty. She dimmed the lights and spoke softly. We talked about the miracle of birth and how precious children are. She had a book that had just come out with actual photographs inside the womb and she brought it in and showed it to me. There were five women in labor at the same time and there was a lot of screaming going on--probably more noticeable because of the missing wallboard. One doctor was on duty going from one to the next waiting to see who would deliver first. My contractions were getting closer together and lasting longer and I was coping with them by closing my eyes and pretending I was outside my body. The doctor walked into my room munching on a sandwich and asked the nurse "What have you got her on? She's so relaxed."
My nurse was so proud of the fact that I wasn't on any medication and she said "Nothing! She's doing this all on her own!" After he left, she said, "I can catch this baby--don't worry if he's too busy--we'll have this baby just fine."
It wasn't long after that that it was time to push. As it turned out, the doctor waltzed in on the last two pushes. Spencer was born at 12:26 am. He cut the cord, laid Spencer up on me, told me congratulations on a fine healthy son and waltzed back out. The nurse was disappointed that he made it in for the delivery. I was too. Spencer didn't cry right away--he looked around and quietly took it all in. The nurse rubbed him vigorously with a blanket and he took his first big breath with a healthy cry.
The nursery was on a different floor than the mom rooms, so Andy went with the nurse and Spencer to see him get weighed and cleaned up. I was wheeled off to another room. I didn't get to see my baby for about an hour and I was pretty anxious. Andy brought him to me and announced the stats: 9 pounds 4 1/2 ounces and 21 inches long. He had a whole head of thick black hair and big eyes. He was very calm and nursed easily. I was in heaven. I had waited almost 4 years for this addition to our family and I was a very happy mom.
Later in the morning, Andy came back with the other kids. They were so excited to see their new brother. I had to stay longer in the hospital than I wanted to because of some hemorrhaging issues. I was given pitocin and had the privilege of having a nurse come in and "massage" (actually "smash") my uterus every hour or so. It was painful and made it impossible to get any rest. I was fortunate to find a midwife before the birth of our next child and learn about red raspberry leaf so that I never had bleeding problems with any of our other babies.
We brought Spencer home to a very enthusiastic crowd. He was loved and adored. According to my journal Scott loved taking care of him and even changed his diapers. He didn't want Spencer to nap because he loved playing with him. Even though Shanna wanted a little sister, the minute she saw him she decided he was so cute she would love him anyway. As he got older, I had to convince them to put him down once in awhile so he could learn to crawl.
When I took him in for his one month check-up, our family doctor asked about how I was feeling. He was screening me for postpartum depression. I told him, "I feel like I have postpartum euphoria. I am kind of over-the-top happy. Is that hormonal?" He laughed and told me he wasn't sure but to let him know if it changed. It didn't. Spencer was a very happy, easy-going baby. He would go to anyone and people at church loved to hold him. If the person behind us in the pews held out their hands, he would go to them and often spent Sacrament Meeting sitting with various ward members.
And now our Spencer is home from a faithful mission, married to his childhood sweetheart in the temple and getting through his Chemical Engineer degree at BYU. Happy and easy-going as ever.