Hmm…I last posted that we were soon going to meet a midwife. We did meet her and liked her very much, and three weeks ago was in plenty of time, even if I had been looking since November! The midwife also arrived in plenty of time on Friday, June 11th, 2010–she arrived at approximately 8:04 a.m., saw that the side door was open and let herself in, and made it down the hallway to our bedroom in time to catch Elisabeth at 8:05 a.m. Definitely my fastest, easiest labor–I didn’t even call the midwife or the friends to pick up the other children until 6:45, and I only called then because Helen (21 months) wanted only to nurse, and that was just a bit too intense for me. If Helen had still been asleep or had been willing to have something else to eat, I doubt that I would have called anyone before about 7:30! (As it was, although I did try to reach the midwife at 6:45, her husband answered the phone and said that she was at the beach and would be back in half an hour or so. I called again at 7:40 and got her just as she was entering her house, so that she made it at just past 8:00 is very impressive!)
Labor had technically, I suppose, started with my waters breaking at 1:20 a.m., 50 minutes after I had put down my book and turned off my reading light. (Which did mean that I had almost 50 minutes more sleep before this birth than before the last three, so that was quite helpful!) I got up and put on a loaf of bread (in the breadmaker–very easy, not a big deal), did some laundry, and waited for something else to happen, but when nothing else did, I figured I should try to sleep some more. I lay in bed wide awake for about an hour, had maybe three very minor contractions (nothing stronger than those of the last couple of weeks), finally gave up on sleep and turned on the computer, where I continued an e-mail I’d started the evening before to my friend Sue. I suppose I could have warned her at the top what was coming later in the e-mail, but I honestly didn’t expect her to see it until after I’d called her to pick up the girls anyway, and it was rather fun just mentioning in the middle “I’m continuing this e-mail now because I’m awake because my waters broke,” and writing down the times of contractions. (Actually, to be honest, that was less for Sue as for my own records–I saved a copy of the e-mail I sent so that I can copy those into my pregnancy journal. ) I think I sent the e-mail around 5:40, posted on Facebook as well, and went off to have a shower, although with various other distractions (talking with my husband, putting laundry away, going down my check-list of what to have where, so putting the camera in the bedroom and a stool in the shower, etc.), I didn’t actually get in the shower until well after 6:00. While I was there Helen woke up and joined me, and even during contractions I was still able to hold her in one arm while washing shampoo out of her hair with the other hand. So really, they weren’t that intense. Then once I was out, she only wanted to nurse, as I said, and I endured that for about ten minutes, but I was really needing to be moving around during contractions. So that was when I called Sue to pick up the girls and Laverne to pick up the boys. (In both cases, the respective husbands actually answered the phone, and both husbands said that they would come get the respective children, and in both cases, the wives were the ones who ended up coming!) I also called the midwife, as I said, or rather, talked with her husband.
From there there’s not much else to say! After I got off the phone with Sue I asked Helen if she wanted to go see Sue, and she immediately spit out the breast and jumped off the bed, saying “Sue! Go! Buggy!” (I’d tried to tempt her with cereal, bread, jam, honey, yogurt, and even cookies, but none of those were more interesting than Mama-milk. Sue, however, definitely. She’s been Helen’s best friend since Helen was six or seven months old, at the age when normal children start having stranger anxiety. None of my children have ever understood that concept anyway, but Helen even less so. )
My husband woke the other children, who bounced out of bed immediately and cheerfully and were dressed and packed in about five minutes. (Normally, waking them at all means at least half an hour to an hour of fussiness…I generally try to avoid waking them.) So they were all waiting excitedly outside and I was just trying to explain to Helen that she was NOT going in the buggy, that Richard (Sue’s husband) would be coming with the car, when Sue arrived on foot. So Helen happily climbed in the buggy and waved goodbye. While we were still discussing whether she should take the boys, too, and have Laverne pick them up from her house, Laverne arrived, so off went the boys, as well. I suppose that was between 7:00 and 7:15.
Oh, and at 7:30 I called the pediatrician, who was supposed to be present for the birth, and finally confessed to her that I had no intention of going to the clinic, and would she come to the house. (She’s already agreed to come to the house for the subsequent visits in the first few days.) She had no problem with that and I gave her directions, but I know that at one point I had to say “Just a moment,” and breathe carefully through the next contraction, then continued talking with her. She was willing to come right away, but I said that we might as well wait until the midwife arrived and could give a better estimate than I could of how long it might still be. As it turned out, my husband called her about half an hour after the birth.
So…according to our borrowed digital scale theoretically accurate to the nearest 100 grams, Elisabeth weighed 3.8 kilos (8 pounds 6 ounces), and the beaming midwife and pediatrician (who discovered that they come from the same village) both agreed that her APGAR was a perfect 10. She’d cried loudly but fairly briefly right after she was born, and then nursed some and looked around with a confused look. We didn’t measure her until the next day–her head was only 35 centimeters around (smallest of all my full-term babies), but she was 52 centimeters long. And we didn’t agree on her first name until about seven hours after she was born, and still haven’t agreed on a middle name.
Incidentally, this morning as I was mixing up everybody’s names and then stared at Elisabeth trying to get her name straight, I said out loud, “I keep forgetting her name!” No, of course I didn’t exactly mean that literally…but I have a very literal nearly-five-year-old daughter. Katie left the room and came back with paper and pen and asked me to spell Elisabeth, which I did, and she wrote down. Then she handed me the paper and said very seriously, “There–now when you forget what her name is, you can just look at this and read it!”
She’s now over 2 1/2 days old, still no middle name. For all of our children, the middle name has been the opportunity to use a name that is special for some reason (either because of being named for someone else or because of the actual meaning of the name), but which we wouldn’t use as a first name for some reason (usually the lack of compatibility in various languages). So the middle name IS a gift that we want to give our daughter, and just “sounding good with Elisabeth” isn’t a good enough reason…but my theoretical choice for a middle name doesn’t sound at all good with Elisabeth, so I can’t decide whether to take it or not. I’m driving my husband crazy (not for the first time…), but he’s not being any more helpful, either. Having five speaking children, we have five different suggestions from them, too. Actually, Elisabeth had been my first choice for a middle name for a long time (a name I love anyway, my grandma’s name (but with a z, not an s), and it means “pledged to God”), as I thought it too long for a first name, and I still think it’s too long for a first name, but if I could figure out how to put photos on here, I could prove that her name IS Elisabeth, because that’s what she looks like.
I suppose I’m rambling again. It’s just past 11:00, I ought to go to bed. I can only sleep so much, and I’m not DOING anything. The older children have been very helpful, my husband is home, and I’m just not doing anything except sitting on the couch with the fan blowing on me, and nursing Elisabeth. But I know my husband turned the air conditioner on in our bedroom when he went to bed a little while ago, so I think I’ll go to bed and read, at least.