Life is a whirlwind these days adjusting to baby #10’s arrival. My days fly by. I nurse the baby, feed the other kids and keep them from fighting, do a load of laundry, and then repeat it all. Until it’s blissfully quiet after they go to bed! 😉
I have had several people ask about my birth story, which is incredibly sweet! Now that the oldest seven kids are back in school, I finally have a chance to write about how it all went down.
My original due date (which we all know is just a guess) was June 26th or 27th. I already forgot. Oops.
I knew without a doubt that the baby would be at least a week “late.” No doubt I got my hopes up a little with all the strong Braxton Hicks contractions, but I was expecting a 4th of July baby.
Well, the 4th passed by with barely a contraction. It was so strange! At 38 weeks my body was having tons of false labor, yet once my due date came (and went) my body stopped contracting at all!
I nested. I rested. I tried to pray the rosary as often as I could.
This picture may be my favorite pregnancy picture ever! As I prayed, the baby in my belly kicked and squirmed like crazy. I tried to truly appreciate every moment, knowing the baby would be out soon.
At my 41 week midwife appointment, baby and I were doing great. I was dilated to 1 1/2-2 cm and baby was at 0 station. Nothing to get overly excited about. That night, I got very little sleep because I had light contractions every 3-5 minutes for several hours. Just as I thought about calling my midwife to come, I fell asleep on the couch. Obviously not the real thing!
At 41 weeks and 3 days, I had another night of light contractions every 3-5 minutes. They weren’t the real thing because they really didn’t hurt at all. I just couldn’t sleep because I was expecting them to turn into actual labor. I drank a bunch of water and they stopped.
The next morning, I was exhausted from so little sleep. We decided to call Mike’s mom to entertain the kiddos. “It” had to be any minute, so it would be easier to have her at our house anyway.
I slept the day away. It was wonderful! I had 2 or 3 contractions the entire day, and I went to bed very disappointed. I felt like I had called my mother-in-law to our house for no reason.
As we got ready for bed on July 7th, I was rocking on my birth ball to try to get things going. Nothing was happening, not a single contraction. I did a little reading, thumbing through my book of saints. St. Gianna, St. Gerard, Mother Mary, and every saint I could think of were praying for me to finally have this baby. As I drifted off to sleep, I learned that St. Anne (Mother Mary’s mother—Jesus’ grandma) was one of the patron saints of childbirth.
I woke up a touch before 1:00 a.m. on July 8th to use the bathroom. As I waddled out of bed, I had a STRONG contraction. I mumbled a quick “Please St. Anne, please, pretty please pray that this is the real thing….”
About 5 minutes later I had another very strong contraction, so I called my midwife. I felt silly telling her I had had two contractions, but I did it anyway. I told her I thought I had a little while but thought it best for her to go ahead and get to my house.
The rest of labor was a complete blur. I had contraction after contraction. They were STRONG and LONG and quickly settled into about 2 minutes apart. I couldn’t think straight. When I opened my eyes, I would see Mike either glancing to see if the baby was coming out or looking out the window for the midwife.
I reassured Mike we had awhile to go because I wasn’t nauseous yet—in my nine previous births, I thought I might throw up right before baby came. I was actually starving but afraid to eat, so I felt like we had quite a bit of labor left.
At that point, none of the positions that usually help me with the pain (standing and swaying, sitting on the birth ball) were helping. I remember being on my knees leaning on the edge of my bed almost crying. I told Mike maybe I was getting old and couldn’t handle pain anymore!
The only position that helped me was to sit criss cross applesauce on the floor (I had spread a plastic sheet and chux pads on the floor in case my water broke). The light pressure of the floor on my tailbone helped a bit.
At last the midwives were at our house! I breathed a sigh of relief, and Mike went downstairs to let them in the front door. It was about 1:45 a.m. Over the sound of the white noise machine in the hallway, I heard some nervous chatting and laughter as they brought in the equipment.
I had a contraction (still sitting Indian style on the floor) and involuntarily pushed. OH *%#@! was all I could think. I reached down and felt my bag of water bulging out several inches. It was the coolest thing, like a thin water balloon ready to pop!
I tried to yell “HELP!” but it didn’t come out very loudly because another monster contraction started. I hiked my right leg up,reached down to tear my bag of water open, and PUSHED!!!!!
My scream—that universal I-am-pushing-out-a-baby scream—brought the whole house running into the room. The details aren’t clear about who reached our bedroom first, but I will never forget Grandma Cynthia’s look of disbelief!
Baby’s head and shoulders were out, so my midwife had me lean a little to the left so I could push the rest of baby’s body out. What a relief!
I was so excited! Was it a boy or a girl? I had been dreaming of holding this little one for months, and finally I would know!
I scooped my baby up, which was a little tricky because the umbilical cord was still connected to me. The cord was so thick and went tightly right between baby’s legs, so it took a few seconds to move it out of the way….
It was a girl, the daughter I had prayed for months ago!
The kids all gathered around to meet their new sister! I was helped up from sitting in the floor and sat on the edge of my bed holding her. We all admired her dark hair. She was alert and calm, taking it all in!
The umbilical cord had stopped pulsing, so Mike cut it. We had everyone go downstairs while I stood up to deliver the placenta—yes, into the popcorn bowl just like my three other home births. I jumped in the shower while the midwives threw the top layer of sheets in the washer for me.
The kids all came back in to watch us weigh, measure, and examine their little sis while I ate a big bowl of gluten free rice crispies! I was still starving! We all guessed her measurements. Was she 8 lbs? 9 lbs?
She measured 19 1/2 inches long and weighed 8 lbs 10 oz. A short, chubby little thing!
Of course, the best part about a home birth (besides not having your baby in the car after a 55 minute labor) is after the birth. We held and snuggled our new baby, talking about baby names the entire time.
The kids all had their ideas of what to name her. Maren wanted to name her Roses. Britta preferred Rosalina. My list was huge, but I knew what Mike’s favorite name was.
We decided to sleep on it before making a final decision on her name. The midwives left,and the kids went back to bed. By some miracle, we actually slept in till about 8:00 a.m.
In the dark, peaceful morning hours, I got to know my little girl. I put the sweet little white crocheted hat on her head (lovingly made by big sister Kelsey) and just stared at her. We had our first “talk.” I felt her long skinny toes and the arch of her feet. I giggled at the fine, dark hair on her earlobes and small of her back. She had adorable little fat rolls on her forearms and quite the double chin. We nursed, and I pressed her soft cheeks against mine. Thank you, St. Anne, for getting the ball rolling on my labor. Thank you, God, for letting me experience this again. Surely holding a new baby against my chest is a small glimpse of how wonderful Heaven will be.
Morning came, and we had to decide on a name! Was she a Lena or Camille? Lorna or Petra? Simone or Audra? Martina or Thea? Maybe I should consider incorporating a version of Anne in her name since St. Anne’s prayers finally got labor started for me?
We finally had to pick, and we decided on our favorite:
Now, I know it’s a touch different, which is why we love it. We love girl names that are feminine, yet not overly frilly or hard to spell.
Petra is a form of Peter. Who better to name our beautiful daughter after than St. Peter? After all, St. Peter denied Christ three times, yet went on to lead the early Church, beginning the passing of written and oral tradition down from apostle to apostle. Even today, 2,000 years later!
We also love that St. John Paul II beatified Blessed Petra of St. Joseph Perez Florido in 1994. For my non-Catholic friends and family, Blessed Petra needs one more approved miracle to be called St. Petra. If anyone knows where I can find out more information about Blessed Petra, please let me know in the comments! I would love to know more about her!
Felicity is after St. Felicity. We loved how a more feminine, frilly middle name paired with Petra as a first name.
I have so many blog posts to write—they are floating around in my sleep-deprived brain! Maybe I will have more time to write…someday! Until then, thank you for reading! I would appreciate prayers. We are doing very well. I feel great, little Petra is healthy and such a sweet baby. It’s just quite a job keeping up with everyone. Couldn’t imagine doing it without my amazing husband. Truly, with God, all things are possible!