Much to the surprise of most everyone we knew, and to the chagrin of many of them, we actually conceived Baby #4 on purpose. At this point the other kids were 5, 3 and 1 and let's just say nobody ever viewed me as the most competent mother on the planet. One friend, upon hearing the news, actually came up and whispered "I'm sorry" to me, assuming that she was comforting a shocked and overwhelmed mother.
Shocked? No. Overwhelmed? Yes. But our thought was why not just go ahead and lump all the chaos together? They can all be teenagers at the same time. That will be fun. Right? RIGHT?
I was as sick as ever this time. Not necessarily throwing up but nauseated beyond belief. I could not cook. At all. If I cooked it and ate it I threw it up. At one point I lived on McDonald's cheeseburgers and orange drink. This was the summer of 1995 and Jars of Clay had just come out with their first album. We had the cassette tape and my husband played it over and over and over again, ad nauseum (quite literally), so that for years afterwords, every time I heard a song from that album, I could taste the McDonald's cheeseburger and the big orange drink and feel the wave of nausea wash over me.
When I found out I was pregnant, I knew that there was a possibility that this might be my last. I really wanted a good birth experience. I was frustrated by the way I was treated by the eye rolling, sarcasm oozing triage nurse when I went to the hospital with Baby #3 and I had had a very bad experience with the postpartum nurse after his birth. I had also struggled with pretty severe postpartum depression and didn't want any events that might make that worse. But mainly, I really, really wanted to give a home birth a try.
We interviewed our midwife and were pretty impressed when she said she had quit counting after she had delivered 2000 babies. She was a Certified Nurse Midwife, which appealed to my law abiding side (lay midwifery is considered a misdemeanor in the state of North Carolina), and brought along all sorts of important stuff like Pitocin and oxygen, which appealed to my cautious medical side. I was also more comfortable with the idea since we lived about 7 minutes from the hospital.
My only concern was that she lived in Mars Hill, about 20 minutes north of us, but regularly went to visit her sister over the mountain in Johnson City, TN. And this was February. One time I thought I might be in labor. She was in Johnson City and it was snowing on Sam's Gap, the highest part of the highway between the two cities. But that petered out.
Well, my due date (2/9) came and went and no baby. I had really thought that perhaps this one would come early like #1 and #3. I had even gone sledding and chased the garbage truck down the road, but to no avail. No labor. On Wednesday, February 14, she checked me and still not a lot was going on... maybe a centimeter or two. We planned that, if I hadn't gone into labor by Friday, I would make a milkshake with castor oil in it which would get certain things moving below which would then, hopefully, stimulate other things to get moving.
By noon on Thursday I was about as crabby as I can ever remember being. And hungry. I ate everything I could get my hands on. A friend came over for a while and while we were talking , around 2:30 p.m., I started having contractions about 10 minutes apart. That went on for about 1.5 hours and got a little closer together. I called my husband to come home from work and he said he would start walking. We only one car at the time and I had it. I blasted him with "What the **** are you thinking!" (remember I was very crabby). A friend gave him a ride home.
I took a shower and the kids took late naps as we timed the contractions. They got closer together and finally we called the midwife around 6:00. She told us to call her in another 30 minutes to report back. Around 7:00, my husband took the kids across the street to a neighbor's house and then I got in the bathtub. Funny how that tub had seemed so deep when I was leaning over bathing the kids. Now the full tub of water only covered about half of my bloated belly. I lay there, like a hormonally devastated whale, groaning through contraction after contraction.
The midwife and her assistant arrived at 7:30 and started setting up shop. I was so afraid that she was going to say that I hadn't dilated yet. At 7:45 she came in to check me and said the most beautiful words: "You are a good 9." She told me to have a couple more contractions in the tub and then move to the toilet and try pushing.
I got to the toilet and had one outrageous contraction that apparently expanded my limited vocabulary of expletives. Good thing it was winter and the windows were closed. (Houses were close together in our neighborhood.) With that contraction, my water broke and another contraction jumped in on the fun. My midwife said in a gentle, sweet voice, "OK, when you have a lull we need to get you to the bed." And all I could squeal was "LULL? WHAT LULL? THERE IS NO LULL" over and over again.
The midwife, who I guess had seen it all, looked knowingly at my husband, who had almost lost a piece of his ear in the last contraction, and they picked me up and carried me across the hall to the bed as Baby was crowning. My husband landed on the bed. I landed on my husband. And Baby #4 popped out. (Reminding me of what my former midwife had said about what I would do if I ever got hold of a small, anterior baby).
Our little girl was born at 8:00 p.m. weighing in at a precise 7 lbs. An hour later the other kids came back home. It was peaceful and wonderful. I would do it again, if I were younger and still had the necessary equipment.