We thought we were done for a couple of years. After Anna was born, we weren't ready to say "No more" but we were more than ready to be done for a little bit.
The good Lord had other plans.
I realized that my body was acting pregnant. I was tender and tired. So I peed on a stick and was only mildly shocked to see that it came back positive.
I had just taken all our baby gear to a consignment sale a few weeks before. In fact, the day after the test, I went to the sale (run by church friends of mine) to see if I had anything that hadn't sold. My plan was to pull it off the floor.
Every single bit of it was gone. I quietly wandered over to the maternity clothes and began to sort through and was caught. My friend looked at me and asked why I was looking at maternity clothes. I couldn't think of a snappy reply and didn't want to lie. She eyed me and her jaw dropped.
"Aubrey! Are you pregnant?"
I nodded and put my finger to my lips, not ready to share our news with the world at large.
When we did tell everyone, we made the decision to truly let our little one be a surprise.
We still had plenty of blankets, a crib, and a swing. The baby was due just about the same time the next round of consignment sales would hit, so I purchased only a neutral colored car-seat and two little outfits for a boy. I had enough girl stuff to get us through for a bit if the baby was a girl, but if it was a boy, I had nothing.
I took those two tiny boy outfits home and washed them. Once they were clean, I folded them neatly and put them in a drawer next to a pile of pink stuff. I wondered who the little one would be as I shut the drawer.
Our family, plus my sweet niece.
Months later, I pulled out those two tiny boy outfits along with two sweet little girl outfits. I selected the blanket Thomas had come home with and the blanket that each of my girls had been wrapped in when they came home. These blankets were made by my Aunt Cheryl and the kids all love these blankets and the stories tied to them.
By mid-April, my bag was more or less packed, ready to receive those last few toss in items I would need. My baby was due in mid-May, but I was to be induced on the 28th.
Joshua called me that morning to tell me there were severe storm warnings all over and to keep home and be ready to take cover in case of tornadoes.
We spent a few moments hauling down pillows and blankets and I made the kids keep their tennis shoes on. When Joshua came home around noon, I knew that things were pretty serious.
Due to the location of our neighborhood, we got minimal winds and rains. I couldn't wrap my mind around the destruction that was taking place all over our city. In fact, I was still pretty sure that I was going to have a baby the next day.
Then the hospital called. All non-emergent procedures were being canceled.
I'll admit this right now: I was weak and fleshly. I was upset. I wanted to meet my little person. I wanted my little person to be outside of my body. I'd already signed the eviction notice, for crying out loud!
The morning of the 28th dawned clear and beautiful and without power. We took stock and found that we were in good shape for food and candles and supplies. We had a grill and a generator.
I moaned all day about how I was supposed to be meeting my little one. Our house was totally unscathed and all of our family and friends (though we didn't know it at the time) were safe, yet all I could do was mope because I was still pregnant.
If you've had the joy of a third trimester or two, you know how ready you are tom embrace the end. And maybe you know how it is to be so totally self-focused. Not one of my finer moments, but it is the reality of that time in my life.
For four days, I washed dishes in cold water and soaked them in bleach water and rinsed them and dried them and pouted because we had no paper plates.
For four days, I waddled around watching my kids and my husband entertain each other while I tried to make lemonade from lemons and not go into labor (while secretly wanting nothing more than to go into labor).
For four days, we cooked outside, ran the generator as needed to keep the fridge and freezer cool, and kept to curfew.
For four days, I was more miserable than I knew I could be. The demands of running a home with no power when it was designed to take tons of power were overwhelming and I was tired to an extent I never knew possible. It took everything Joshua and I had.
We watched our neighbors all leave. Joshua is a Ham Radio Operator and we listened as reports of devastation rolled in. We waited for news of open stores and listened to tales of miles-long lines at gas stations in neighboring cities. We counted our blessings to be safe and sound and snug in our home.
I did ridiculous things. I painted the girls room. The kids laughed at me when I plugged in the sewing machine during a couple of our generator runs and sewed bunting and curtains for their room.
Anything to keep my mind off how uncomfortable I was.
One would think that with the insanity of my days and the efforts those days were taking, I would manage to sleep. Let me just disabuse you of that notion. It doesn't matter how physically or mentally exhausted one is, when your body is That Pregnant, sleep is elusive.
Our church planned to hold AM services that Sunday, May 1. So on Saturday night, we warmed water on the grill and poured it into a rubber-maid tub. The kids all bathed in the tub, right there on the deck under the beautiful stars. To them, it was just another part of this awesome adventure!
We refreshed the water and then I wedged my very pregnant body into that tub of warm water and felt like the Queen of Sheba. I think the only other time I had ever had such a wonderful 'bath' was in Haiti when I showered (fully clothed) in the run-off water from a school tent during an unexpected rain storm.
Sunday night as Joshua and I were listening to radio reports and playing Scrabble by candlelight, a noise scared me. A split second later, I realized that 'noise' was the power coming back on.
The hospital called and said that we could come in and have a baby, but we declined. Given that our newborns are severely jaundiced, we opted to wait a bit longer. We didn't know if the power would stay on, and we had to be forward thinking and consider if we could handle a bili-bed. We knew from past experiences that a hospital stay for a jaundiced baby was a killer for me and would be incredibly hard on the rest of our family. Especially now, given all our 'after baby helpers' were unable to get to us or had fled town to care for their own families.
By 2AM on May 2, I knew it was to be Baby Day. I was up pacing around, timing contractions. At 5AM, I called my Dad. "Um, I'm about to leave for the hospital to have a baby. If y'all can get here, that would be great."
I woke Joshua up, who had been shouldering the load of everything and sleeping really well. I hated to do it, but it was time.
I grabbed my bag and drove myself to the hospital. I wasn't that far along in labor, so I was safe to drive. I drove through our neighborhood seeing random lights and televisions going in homes I knew nobody was occupying. My path to the hospital allowed me the luxury of missing the parts of town that were hit hardest by the tornadoes. Since the curfew was still in effect, the roads were all but barren. It was a very surreal experience.
As I got settled in at the hospital, I missed Joshua. I was pretty certain that I would not have the baby before he made it to me (my Dad had called to say they were on their way, so I knew Joshua was coming as soon as he could), but his absence was keenly felt.
I had a traumatic first birthing experience (the details of which I will probably never share on this blog so as to spare first time pregnant ladies who might be reading), and so I can't even conceive of a epidural-less delivery. I did think twice this time, though. Joshua wasn't there to hold me. I am terrified of the procedure, even though I've done it so many times. In the end, the previous trauma memories trumped and I asked for the epidural.
I clutched the nurse's hand and closed my eyes tightly and it was done.
Finally, Joshua was there with me. And since I'm not much on sharing the actual details of labor, I'll simply say that the discomfort and the crazy of those few days were all a part of God's plan and that in the end, we got our precious baby safely delivered. And it was a boy!
Our sweet Little Dude entered a world with the power to keep his bili-bed running because he was, of course, jaundiced. He entered the arms of a Mommy and Daddy who were beyond thrilled to welcome this surprise addition to our family. He was met by a brother who, eleven and a half months later, is still enamored of his role as a brother to a brother. He was kissed and cuddled by all three of his sisters who adore him and cheer over every accomplishment he has, big and small.
He is ours. The other half of our book-end boys. The baby. He is our last, and we are taking care to enjoy each moment and breath in the wonder. And he is loved so very much by so very many.