Two weeks ago, God added a sixth child to our family. What a precious gift little Teddy is! We are so grateful! But, his birth was unremarkable. Beautiful, yes! Precious, indeed! Amazing, certainly! What birth isn’t? But the miracle of Teddy’s birth was just how plain, simple, and unremarkable it was. I will get to those specific details soon, but to fully appreciate Teddy’s birth story one must fully understand his pregnancy story.
Six weeks prior to Teddy’s conception, we miscarried Baby Shalom. Finding out we were pregnant again so soon was a shock to me. We were excited, but also still grieving our other baby. There were so many fears during that first trimester. Would this baby survive? I saw a natural doctor locally and found out that my hormones were off. (Was this the cause of the miscarriage or caused by the miscarriage? We’ll never know.) I took some natural supplements to lower my estrogen levels and some cream to increase my progesterone levels. This seemed to help me carry the pregnancy. I was able to wean off of the progesterone by the beginning of the second trimester.
During those first weeks of pregnancy, food did me in! Most women experience nausea to some degree. However, my bloating and stomach pain had less to do with pregnancy in general and more to do with what pregnancy was doing to my food intolerances. While there were plenty of foods which caused me trouble prior to pregnancy (gluten, dairy, avocado, eggs, nuts), it seemed that almost every source of protein caused me unbearable stomach pain that first trimester (fish, chicken, pork, beef, collagen and gelatin, but not turkey)! In addition to the upheaval in my menu-planning, we had three (amazing!!!) trips planned during the summer. And traveling always makes eating tricky.
Because I was having trouble bonding with this new little life in my womb (possibly because of the grief associated with my prior miscarriage), my husband and I decided we wanted to find out the baby’s gender and give him a name. At 22 weeks, the ultrasound revealed a sweet little baby boy moving and kicking! We were thrilled! However, while we knew the gender of the baby, I never heard back from the clinic that everything else from the exam checked out alright. I assumed no news was good news; they had said they’d contact us right away if there were any questions. However, at 25 weeks, I finally did inquire about a full ultrasound report. I figured it should have been in my patient portal by that time.
It turned out that there were, in fact, some concerns about the baby revealed on the ultrasound. His kidneys appeared the wrong size and wrong color. Our midwives referred us to a specialty clinic in the Twin Cities, about a 90-minute trip for us. Once we had this news, we had to wait a few days for the U of M to call us to schedule an appointment. We finally went to the appointment when I was around 28 weeks.
The level-2 ultrasound in the Cities confirmed the findings in the first ultrasound, but also revealed an additional concern. I had a high amniotic fluid level (AFI), around 29. Below 24 was within the normal range. Both conditions would need to be monitored. We were to return to the Cities for an additional appointment at 32 weeks. In the meantime, the specialist recommended that we receive weekly ultrasounds locally to monitor the baby.
At home, my husband and I researched the implications of a high AFI. Complications in pregnancy, labor, and delivery included varicose veins and discomfort due to extra fluid pressure, pre-term labor, umbilical cord prolapse if the bag of waters breaks suddenly, and higher risk of stillbirth. This was extremely frightening.
Indeed, I was struggling with varicose veins. In my vulva. I had experienced these during my prior two full-term pregnancies. They made the third trimester extremely difficult. Any change from sitting to standing or squatting pooled blood in my vulva and made it inflamed and painful. It was worse early this pregnancy. In addition, it seemed that the skin of my vulva was weakening and some of the veins were coming to the surface, only prevented by a very weak layer of skin that looked like a mole.
It was during these struggles that I tried several different kinds of maternity belts and supports in order to take some pressure off of my groin area. But rather than helping, things seemed to get worse. I was itchy all of the time and the straps and velcro just caused more and more irritation. At that time, I tried to get a referral to see an OB to check if I had a yeast infection. I had already tried some over the counter creams and they just didn’t seem to be helping. However, the clinic I called would not allow me to see a provider until I had already done an over-the-counter 7-day Monistat regimen. I explained that I had already tried several things like this, but they insisted I needed to do the Monistat, and after that, I could call and make an appointment for a week or more into the future.
I was frustrated. And I was in so much pain! I ended up visiting Urgent Care on the weekend because I just couldn’t wait any longer to receive care. This doctor also asked me to do the 7-day Monistat treatment (again), but he also prescribed a pill that would knock out the yeast. He also took a look at my varicose veins and diagnosed me with several angiomas, little moles where the veins are breaking out of the skin. I finally started to feel better from the yeast a few days after that, but still struggled for about 2 weeks.
Around 32 weeks, we returned to the Cities for another level-2 ultrasound and specialist appointment. The same concerns appeared on the ultrasound, but this time, a different doctor offered a different interpretation. He wasn’t really concerned about the AFI levels (he got concerned when levels go over 40) but baby’s kidneys were worry-some to him. He said he would be alright with us continuing to plan a homebirth as long as nothing seemed worse on the weekly ultrasounds, but that we would need to return in another 4 weeks for a visit.
Meanwhile, my varicose vein pain grew in intensity. One morning, I got out of bed and was taking my vitamins. In my pajamas, I squatted down painfully to help my toddler get dressed. A few moments later, I sat down on the couch to read my Bible. But I felt wet, like I had peed. I put my hand between my pajama pant legs and drew it out, covered with blood. I screamed for my husband and ran to the bathroom. I pulled down my pants and blood was running down my legs, pooling on the tile floor and absorbing into my slippers. I told my husband we needed to go to the ER right NOW because I didn’t have much time. I grabbed a heavy-duty pad, put on regular pants, and we headed to the car. My husband was pretty sure the bleeding was external, because he saw it pulsing with what he presumed was my heartbeat. Sure enough, upon examination, the ER doctor said that my angioma had burst to the surface. The baby was fine. The bleeding had stopped, but I should expect that it would happen again during pregnancy, possibly multiple times. There was nothing he could do to treat it. The ER nurse strapped a bunch of gauze to my privates, and they sent us home.
We were so very thankful that the baby was okay. As I stood in the bathroom earlier that morning, I thought the baby had died, and that I might hemorrhage to death there in the bathroom as my blood sprayed all over the white porcelain tub, toilet, and sink pedestal in the bathroom. My husband had been visibly frightened, too. Everything was okay now, but how on earth could we possibly continue to deal with this time and time again over the next 2 months? And, how could I possibly have a vaginal delivery? I couldn’t push a baby out without bursting the angioma again! Would I just continue to get more and more weak from loss of blood as the pregnancy went on?
In the meantime, I tried to move as little as possible because movement aggravated the worst angioma, which was not only painful, but also trickling a slow bleed. I tried different clothing combinations. I gave up the maternity belts. I also started chiropractic visits. And I decided to visit the natural doctor again and see if there might be something, ANYTHING, that would help the bleeding. The doctor evaluated my symptoms and decided to try out some homeopathy and see if it helped.
The first day on the remedy, I felt worse—which is often the case with homeopathy. The second and third days, I started to feel better. By one week, my pain was nearly gone. By two weeks, the swelling of the angioma had disappeared, and it looked like it had never existed! Praise the Lord! Three weeks later, I could hardly believe that I wasn’t dealing with the angioma anymore!
We revisited the specialists in the Cities toward the end of the pregnancy. Again, a new specialist had a new opinion. She wasn’t too concerned about the AFI anymore. It had fallen to a 24 and was within normal range. However, no diagnosis had yet been made about the baby’s kidneys. They seemed stumped. Any kind of diagnosis would have included other problems, which the baby didn’t have. This specialist said there were a lot of unknowns about what might happen after the baby’s birth. The best case scenario would be that he was fine and nothing would be wrong. But, we really needed to be prepared for the worst case scenario, which was kidney failure. She was only comfortable with us continuing to prepare for our homebirth if we had a local pediatrician review the specialists’ notes and make plans with us for immediate care locally for the baby after birth. If that was not possible, she urged us to consider delivering in the Cities where the NICU was available.
Now that the angioma was no longer a consideration, I was back to really desiring a homebirth. Of course, we would do what was best for the baby, but I was concerned about what a hospital birth would do to ME! It would be difficult to provide allergy-friendly food for me in a hospital. How would my leaky gut reach to various antibiotics and medications? What if I needed an emergency C-Section? Would the herbal supplements I was taking interfere with bleeding or cause a hemorrhage? How would the baby eat in an emergency situation if I was reacting negatively to medication?
Thank the Lord, a pediatrician who has seen our older kids agreed to take the case (after several hours of my convincing several different secretaries and nurses that yes, I did need to have a pediatrician prior to the birth of this child). He graciously looked over the records, even on his vacation and called us to check in. He concluded that we could go ahead with our homebirth plan and do a renal ultrasound on the baby within 24-hours of birth. He made standing orders at the local hospital for our yet unnamed baby who had no birthdate. This certainly confounded folks at the clinic who continued to call me every few days until he was born, asking me for clarification, and telling me that I can’t make an appointment for myself with a peditrician (“He’s a doctor for babies, you know, not an OB”) and informing me that we’re supposed to wait to make an appointment for the baby until after he’s born. “We have this standing order for a baby’s ultrasound but there no name attached to it, and it seems we don’t have permission to share your records with the specialists in the Cities, and has your baby been born yet?”
Just as it seemed we were getting comfortable with a homebirth plan and everything was falling into place, at 37 weeks, we found our baby was breech. My midwives do not attempt to deliver breech babies. If spinning him at home was not successful, we would need to attempt a version in the hospital with an OB and probably be induced at that time and/or have a C-Section. Again, we struggled with fears and questions about where our baby’s birth would be safest. Now, I was full-term and could go into labor anytime. We did some exercises over the weekend to turn the baby, and at our next appointment, he was head down again. Still, the midwives recommended that I call immediately when I thought I was in labor to do a position check. If, at that check, the baby was breech, I would need to transfer to the hospital for a C-Section.
At 38 weeks, I asked the midwife at my appointment what emergency measures would need to be taken if my water broke and there was a cord prolapse. She walked me through those steps, and I was scared. She told me it was still okay if I wanted to get a second-opinion about the safety of homebirth, or if I wanted to transfer out of the midwives’ care, into the care of an OB. I thought maybe I should reconsider. I would forever regret a negative outcome for my baby from a complication at home that could have been avoided in the hospital. I know there are complications in hospitals, too, but as my due date drew closer, my fear of the pain of labor also increased. If I delivered in a hospital, maybe I could have pain medication? Maybe I could avoid the worst of the labor and delivery? It was so tempting. What should I do?
I called the local clinic to see if I could get another opinion from a trusted OB. After advocating for myself through several secretaries, I was finally put through to a nurse and explained the situation. Sadly, I felt berated and disrespected for not having received “prenatal care” prior to 38 weeks. I tried to explain that I had been under the care of excellent midwives, but was then berated for expecting that I could just make an appointment with this provider without having a prior history with him. She said I’d be lucky if I could get in with any provider at all before my baby was born, much less to start a relationship with a provider. She hung up after saying she’d try to find an opening with somebody in the coming week, but she couldn’t promise anything.
After that phone call, I ugly-cried in the bathroom. All the fears and anxieties of the past months were coming to head then and there. What was I to do? Where was I to go? Who would take care of my baby? Who would take care of ME? I didn’t know where to turn.
The nurse called me back and told me should could get me an appointment with Dr.—-, the provider in my city with the least desirable reputation. When I declined, she again berated me and told me I needed to come in for the safety of my baby. Nope. Sorry lady. I have midwives who care a whole lot more about me and my baby than you do! Just for reassurance, I made an appointment for the very next day at the natural doctor. A former OB there looked over my records and assured me that homebirth was, indeed, a safe plan for us.
Now, at 39 weeks, it seemed we had a different problem. Our latest ultrasound revealed a dramatic change in AFI from 22 to 9. 7 is on the lowest end of the spectrum. It felt reassuring to be so far from the complications associated with a high AFI; on the other hand, a low AFI could mean something wasn’t working well with the baby’s kidneys. Thankfully, though, the pediatrician wasn’t worried, and it seemed that birth was imminent anyway. And when, over the next few days, several of my children threw up, I was extra grateful the baby hadn’t been born yet!
Then, week 40 went by with no birth. I’d never gone this late before! And, at my 41-week appointment, it seemed that baby’s growth had stalled. The midwife talked about Interuterine Growth Restriction. Should we get tested? It seemed reassuring that I wasn’t going to have an 11 lbs baby; but on the other hand, was something wrong that was stopping growth? A biophysical profile and non-stress test revealed that the baby seemed to be thriving. No need to induce. That night, I had a migraine and I was so miserable I hardly slept. My head was pounding so bad that I couldn’t imagine pushing. I prayed and prayed God would not send the baby until my head was better.
The next morning, my head felt significantly better. Now, labor and delivery seemed VERY imminent. He had to be born sometime, right? He couldn’t stay in-womb forever! C’mon Baby! But, by that evening, it seemed I had caught what the children had the previous week. I found myself throwing up for several hours that evening and into the night. I didn’t sleep much, and the throwing up turned into diarrhea. Dear God, don’t send the baby now! I’m so weak and dehydrated I just can’t imagine being able to put forth the effort to birth a baby. God answered my prayers and baby stayed safely inside.
During the hours of vomiting, I felt plenty of movement from the baby. But after vomiting subsided, it seemed that a few hours had gone by without feeling the baby. I started to worry that something might be wrong. I called the midwife at 2 am and she very graciously came over and used the doppler so we could hear the baby’s heartbeat. She said if I stayed dehydrated, we could always consider an IV and that I did the right thing to call for reassurance. Thankfully, though, I rested and rallied the next day and over the weekend.
Monday brought another trip to the midwives’ office. By now, I was 41weeks 4 days pregnant. The licensure of the midwives only goes through 42 weeks. I had 72 hours to deliver, or else I would need to transfer out of the care of the midwives and to the hospital. Again, we were back to wrestling with the place of birth for our baby. What did God want for us, for him? I would sacrifice my beautiful and ideal waterbirth at home if it was clear that that’s what our baby needed. But, time and time again, throughout the last months of pregnancy, provider after provider reassured us that homebirth was a good option. Now, in these last hours, literally, would God change the plan? Couldn’t I have had a bit more advanced notice? Please, Lord, just make it clear one way or the other! I’m going crazy with all of the back and forth!
When we got home from our midwife appointment, it was time for the piano teacher to come over. While the kids had their lessons, I went for a walk around the neighborhood. I had been having contractions on and off all day. One would think that a very overdue pregnant women would take such contractions seriously; however, I’d been having contractions on and off since week 39, and still had no baby in my arms. I didn’t think much of them.
Our friends from Montana came to town that evening. They are the baby’s Godparents and wanted to be around to help when labor/delivery/post-partum came. We made plans for them to care for the children Tuesday, because if I hadn’t given birth yet, I would be returning to the birth center o try some natural induction methods. We gave our friends the plans for the kids, and they left to return in the morning. While I was making supper, it seemed the contractions grew more regular. They were about 7 or 10 minutes apart. Maybe this was progress? However, they didn’t seem particularly difficult or painful. I finished cleaning up after supper and baked some cookies. I wanted to keep moving to keep the contractions going, but the kitchen was already immaculate, and it the rest of the house was already clean, too. Now what?
The big kids were already in bed. I spent some extra time cuddling my 3-year-old, hoping and praying, for about the 20th time, that this would be the last night she’d be my “baby.” Around 9 pm, we went to bed, contractions never picking up more than 7–10 minutes apart that evening. I was anxious. Surely, surely this was labor, but why didn’t it get harder? Why didn’t the contractions come closer together? But, of course, they were hard enough that I couldn’t really sleep! I did lay down and rest, though. Every hour during the night, I got up and walked a few laps around the house. I used the bathroom. I had a light snack. (Each time I thought, “How will this taste if I throw it up in transition?”) I took a drink. I timed two contractions. Still only 30 seconds long and about 10 minutes apart. Boo.
Those last three nights of little sleep with the migraine, the sickness, and labor, it seemed that there was a lot of action at the hospital three blocks away from my house. There was a constant stream of ambulances and helicopters in and out, which I could hear from my bed. I prayed so heartily for those injured or scared during my migraine, between trips to the bathroom, and during contractions. Would I be in the next ambulance or helicopter with my baby? God, keep them safe. Keep us safe.
At 4 am, when I used the bathroom, I wiped bloody mucus! This overjoyed my heart! It meant that at least my contractions were making progress and getting me closer to birth. But, it also scared me. The difficult, painful part of labor, the part where I’d would soon be afraid that I would die from the pain, was closer. How would I manage? Lord, help me.
But, it was also 4 am. My friends were coming at 9 to pick up the children. As much as I welcomed my children to be present at the birth, I didn’t want the birth to take place during a transition of getting the children in or out of the house. I just wanted it to be calm when the baby came. I wanted to know where everyone was and would be. At 4 am, I wasn’t sure what the day would look like. I didn’t seem any closer to having a baby than I had 12 hours ago. How long would I labor? Would this be like the labor with my first: 43 hours long, that ended in the hospital with several medications, an epidural, and dozens and dozens of stitches? Dear God, please don’t let it end like that! Or else, let it end any way at all for me, but keep my baby boy safe. Don’t let him be born still, Lord. Please. My heart would break. Spare us this one pain, dear God. I went back to bed to try to rest my body and soul.
At 7 am, I called the midwife and said that I didn’t think we needed to come in that morning for the natural induction techniques; I was probably in labor. Contractions were still 7 to 10 minutes apart, but still not too painful or long. The midwife came over and checked my dilation. I was at a 4–5! Baby was head down! I guess that really means I’m in labor, right? This baby really is coming?
The kids got off to their activities with our friends. Now the house was quiet. Just my husband and me. The midwife left to get some paperwork done because we didn’t need her yet. I wanted to stay on my feet and get things going faster. But my whole house was clean. Being overdue, I had already done everything on my to-do list, including all the things I had added after my due date! I’d even published a book and received it in the mail the day before. I sat on the couch. Blah.
My husband sat at the table, reading Supreme Court cases. I told him I was bored. He told me about the Supreme Court cases. I have no idea what he was saying. I remember his mouth moving and his voice making noise, but it made no sense. I interrupted that we needed to get out of the house, even if the windchill was below zero. He warmed up the car.
At 11 am, we drove a few blocks to the old mall that is mostly offices now. Lots of folks go walking there, and we joined them. It was off to the races the moment I got there. I waddled as fast as I could! Within 3 minutes, I had a contraction….a nice long contraction! Ryan began timing them. We walked past several old men having coffee. I’m sure they wondered what was up when my walking slowed to a halt and then I had to swing my hips for awhile, before resuming my walking. We also walked past a church that meets in the mall, and some members offered that we come in for some coffee and prayer. We declined the coffee, but said they could pray for us because we were going to have a baby. Soon. So, Susan introduced herself, took my arms, and walked with us, praying, “God we just want to thank you for this baby and ask for a safe delivery….” It was very sweet.
A half hour later, I was having 90 second contractions every 3 minutes. Whew! Ryan said we ought to get home. I thought so, too. I wasn’t convinced the baby was coming any time soon, but I didn’t want to walk past those old men having coffee another time. We drove home and it was a little after 12 pm.
Ryan called everybody who was to be at the birth and then proceeded to get the water tub ready for me. I walked around the house, leaning over the counter to have contractions. Sarah, the midwife, was the first of the team to arrive. I had her check my dilation in the bedroom, but I didn’t want her to tell me what I was. I was afraid I might only be at a 5–6, and if I was I would cry and panic. I didn’t think I could go the rest of the day and another night. I was still weak from the migraine and sickness, and lack of sleep from contractions the night before. How could I keep going for the hours and hours required of me. It was getting harder and harder. (After the delivery, I found out I was at a 7 at this point.)
Soon, my niece the photographer showed up. While the midwife set up all of her supplies, I laughed to my niece that one minute I would be myself, and the next I would go away somewhere inside of myself, but not to worry. It really seemed different than my other labors in that regard. I felt like Marie between contractions. I didn’t have back labor, which I had prayed heartily to avoid. What a pleasant surprise that I could think rationally when I wasn’t having a contraction!
More and more people filled my house. Erika, the second midwife, had come. Jennie, the student midwife, was there. With a birth tub in my dining room, and a birth team in my living room, I didn’t feel comfortable doing laps around my house anymore. My husband was doing things with the pool and my doula hadn’t arrived. I felt alone and didn’t know where to go. It was about 1 pm.
At one point in my wandering, I noticed the hose to the birth pool was writhing. I remember asking someone if that was supposed to happen. Nobody seemed too worried. Somebody asked when I had last eaten. It had been ½ a banana at about 12:30. I ambled into the toddler’s room and contracted over the changing table. Jennie came and checked my vitals. I wandered into my bedroom, and my doula, Stephanie appeared. I cried to her that everybody was just out in my living room waiting for me, and it would be hours and hours until I delivered. I couldn’t stand it. She told me I could talk about it with her. She asked me what my body was telling me to do. I decided to lie down in my bed and rest, but after about 2 contractions, I couldn’t lie still anymore. I had to move.
I walked out of my bedroom with Ryan and Stephanie at my side. I noticed my friend Ashley was here. I noticed the microwave beeping a lot and the smell of food. A pot was boiling vigorously. (The hot water heater had given out, so the tub was being filled with water from the stove-top. Wisely, no one informed me.) I bent over my desk and had a very deep and long contraction. I wandered toward the kitchen, and Ryan steered me out and we did a U-turn so I wouldn't be burned from the steam of the water. I felt kind of like I was in a trance. I felt like my mother with dementia … how she would wander around our home when she lived here, and we would gently steer her in a different direction. I just didn’t think I could do this much longer. I asked for my note cards, on which I had written Bible passages about not being afraid, looking to Jesus, and casting my cares on the Lord. I sat down on the couch, praying out loud that God would help me because I couldn’t keep up labor for the hours and hours that I had ahead of me. Stephanie and Ryan exchanged knowing glances during my next contraction. I groaned low and hard during it, and I noticed that the contraction was different. Sarah heard the difference from the other room and came over. She offered to check my dilation and we walked to the bedroom, stopping for a low, deep contraction along the way. She said I was complete and could push!
What?! I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t need to be transferred to the hospital? I’m not having an emergency C-Section? If nothing else, I thought I still had hours of labor to go! Sarah offered that I could push right there on the bed, but I really wanted to be in the birth pool. They helped me walk over to the pool and get my pants off on the way. It was just after 2 pm. (I later learned that the birth tub had only been ready for approximately 2 minutes, and my friend Ashley had been boiling water on the stove to heat it because the water heater had given out!)
I got into the pool and leaned my arms over the edge. Stephanie and Ryan helped me concentrate and breathe as I settled in. I was expecting to start shaking or vomiting, as was my normal in transition, but it never happened. Apparently, my transition was manifested in self-doubt and the expectation that delivery was still hours away. Instead of getting sick, I just bore down. I felt like I was pushing at the wrong angle, though, so I scooted back in the pool in order that I could lean forward and feel his head—hair and squishy scalp skin compressed together. Stephanie backed away to take some pictures and Ryan scooted closer. Sarah held the doppler on my belly to hear the heartbeat. It was about the 3rd contraction when I could feel him crowning with my hand. Was that a cord pressed next to his head? Probably it didn’t matter because he was seconds from being born. I thought that maybe I should wait one more contraction before the final push, in order to stretch things out more. Except, the song playing on my CD was the short piece Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and it was ending. Here we were at the climax of an epic song, so I decided now would be the moment of his birth. One more push, and Steadfast “Teddy” Theodore was born at 2:16 pm! And it turns out, it wasn’t the cord by his face, it was his hand! I pulled him up and out of the water. My husband reached and ran his hand down Teddy’s spine to start his breathing. I felt such a rush of relief at his first breath. Praise the Lord! He seemed so tiny! Once he started breathing, he was doing a lot of crying! I tried to nurse him, but I felt like there wasn’t enough cord for him to reach. Everyone reassured me, though, that he was just clearing his lungs and it was okay.
The placenta was born without issue, but the midwives commented on how thick Teddy’s umbilical cord was! It was difficult to cut through. I was so happy once he was disconnected, though, because the cord still attached to him had been pulling at a small tear, but we needed to keep him above the water.
Sarah and Jennie helped me out of the pool and had a towel waiting for me. I think Ryan was holding the baby during this time. Apparently the chux pads weren’t in quite the right place as we traveled between tub and bed, so my carpet has some stains as souvenir from Teddy’s birthday. Good thing we were already planning to replace that carpet! Sarah examined me and noted that if I stayed in bed for several days, I wouldn’t need stitches for the two small tears I had. It’s always such a relief to not have to get stitches! Stephanie reminded me of this later when I sat cross-legged in bed. “Mermaid legs” was my mantra during recovery! We were trying to do a lot of skin to skin to get the baby’s temperature up. I remember doing a lot of shaking once I was in bed. I didn’t feel cold, but very emotional and a little bizarre. So much change in such a little time!
I looked forward to the time after birth in the days prior to labor and delivery. It’s always such a beautiful, relaxed, celebratory time. It’s so cathartic to talk about the baby’s birth with the people who were there! It’s fun that people are admiring my sweet baby and coming in and out of the room with updates. I feel so loved and taken care of. It is such a special time. While I was resting and nursing Teddy, I think Ashley and Tessa were draining the tub. Erika was checking the placenta, and Stephanie was making placenta smoothie. Jennie and Sarah were helping me and monitoring the baby. Ryan seemed to be everywhere all at once. We all enjoyed a laugh when Teddy was weighed in the sling—a tiny 8 lb 5 oz baby! My smallest baby, yet!
Ryan suggested taking Steadfast to get the ultrasound done yet that afternoon. But Erika wisely counseled us to wait until the next day. His temperature was still unstable and it was bitterly cold outside. If he was taken to the ultrasound and seemed to be less than normal temperature-wise, he might be admitted to the hospital, when what he really needed was Mom. As far as the midwives could tell, he was thriving and passed all of his newborn exams. No need to rush. Instead, Ryan made the ultrasound and pediatric appointments for the next day.
Slowly, all of the birth attendants left and the house was quiet for a few hours with just Ryan, Teddy, and me. We had some time to call and announce the good news to our family and friends. I was more than happy to rest, but didn’t really feel tired. The baby did an amazing job breastfeeding, like he was super-experienced or something! That night, he was even able to latch in the dark—no small feat!
The big siblings came back around 6:30 and met their brother. They seemed very entranced. Joy, the youngest, was interested, and then very independent. She went off to play! She grew up very quickly, not needing any Mommy snuggles or anything! Our pastor came over at 7 pm to baptize Teddy. It was a very special ceremony, with all 4 of his godparents in attendance and all of his siblings—13 of us total in my bedroom! We sang God’s Own Child, Pastor did the liturgy, and Steadfast Theodore was washed in the waters of Holy Baptism, becoming part of God’s family. I think we all rested in peace that night, especially after Teddy made his first wet diaper prior to bedtime!
Teddy’s tests the next day all went well. It was odd for me to be left home in bed without my nursling twice in one day, but Ryan handled everything well. Teddy’s kidneys appeared to be working well, and so we will monitor them again with an ultrasound in 6 months. Otherwise, we just need to keep counting wet diapers and monitor his growth. Thank you, Jesus!
So far, the rest of his two weeks of life have also been without drama, aside from some personal grieving surfacing regarding the miscarriage of baby Shalom. It is so strange to have such peace in our home, when we expected hospitalization or trips to the Cities and the NICU for Teddy. God is good. We trusted His goodness, even if Teddy had been ill, which is part of why we chose his name: God’s love is steadfast and eternal, no matter our earthly circumstances. He sent Jesus to take away our sins and make us right with God. Heaven is for me, for you, whenever it may be that we die. We give Him thanks and praise for His grace in Teddy’s birth—an unremarkable miracle.
Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson, vice president of Into Your Hands LLC, lives in Casper, Wyoming, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (Old Testament vol., 2018; New Testament vol., 2023), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).