Birth Story Week: #4, in which me having a baby is the least of our worries

As baby number seven's due date fast approaches, I figured I ought to do a Birth Story Week of all six births so far.

Need to catch up? Here are birth story #1, birth story #2, and birth story #3.

And now here's birth story number four:

Hmmmm . . . where to start with this one.

My fourth pregnancy was rather a surprise. All of them have been in their own ways, but this one was especially surprising. It was marked by nausea and headaches and exhaustion and lots of hospital visits and medications and confusion and fear and hope and happy endings.

But not because of me.

My husband was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma two days before I found out I was pregnant. So, big week in the Tierney house. I've written a bit about this experience before, and how it colored my opinions about NFP, but going through pregnancy and childbirth while my husband went through cancer, surgeries, and interferon treatments convinced me more than anything else in my life of the depth of God's love and in the reality of grace and how it could pick me up and carry me through a situation I never could have survived otherwise.

This post is supposed to be a birth story. But there's so little to tell of the birth story, of the whole pregnancy really. So many people were praying for us, I felt like I floated through the pregnancy in this bubble of grace. I had almost no symptoms of pregnancy at all, very little nausea, very little fatigue, no swelling and backaches and other weird pregnancy stuff.

Through God's grace I was able to care for my husband and family in a pretty much uninterrupted way. I once heard someone scoff at the idea of Mary being able to go and care for Elizabeth since she was pregnant herself, and all I could think was, goodness, if *I* could be given that grace when God wished me to have it, when I usually struggle so with selfishness and lack of empathy, I'm pretty sure Mary was fine.

It's my understanding that Mary was also preserved from pain during her labor and delivery, which seems appropriate to me. That wasn't quite my experience. But, all things considered, it wasn't bad.

I think part of God's generous plan for the begetting of children is how little most of us really remember about the bad parts. I have retained flashes of memories and general impressions from all of my labors and deliveries and newborn experiences, but really, if I remembered each one in all its gloriously horrifying detail, how could I ever do it again?

So I'm going to chalk up how little I remember of that labor and delivery, how little I remember of that whole over a year-long husband-with-cancer experience, to another gift of God's grace. I had to look up in Gus's baby book to really remember anything of it at all.

I went into labor in the wee hours of the morning three days before my due date. It took a couple of contractions to be sure it was the real thing, then I called my parents to start the two hour drive up to our house. Things were progressing quickly enough that I decided to also call our neighbor to come over and sleep on the couch, because I wasn't sure I was going to last another two hours.

I woke Jim and we gathered my hospital bag with jammies and makeup and baby blankets and his hospital bag with toothbrush and syringes and vials and off we went. We got to the hospital about 6 am, they hooked me up to the infernal IV because I was whatever that is positive for the first time, but Gus was born well before the hour was up. In all, labor was about four hours. My water never broke. He was 8 lbs 3 oz.

He was fine and I was fine and, eventually, the husband was fine too. But for those last couple of months of his treatments, just in case we hadn't felt God's hand enough, we were blessed for the first time with a baby who preferred his daddy's company to mine. I don't know what I do to my babies in those first few weeks, but five out of six could barely tolerate people besides me existing in the world. Let alone holding them. Gus was totally different. Jim finally took a couple of months of working at home after Gus was born and Gus loved to just sit with him and relax.

I would take him to feed him, but Gus definitely spent more time on the couch with daddy than he did being carried around by me. And even once Jim was back to work, Gus always preferred daddy when he was fussy and would literally dive out of my arms to get to him when he came home from work.

So there you go, a birth story AND a cancer story, and all with happy endings.