Birth Story Week: #6, in which it turns out I totally do NOT know what I'm doing

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, birth story #3, birth story #4, and birth story #5.

And, finally (for now), here's birth story number six:

So, by the time baby number six was on the way, I thought I knew everything there was to know. But, of course, that was before I knew Frankie.

My pregnancy with Anita had been my hardest so far. I had made the jump with that one from mostly just nausea to actual throwing up, a couple of times a week, for a little past the first trimester. So I thought I knew what a "challenging" pregnancy was like.

But I did not.

During my pregnancy with Frankie I threw up at least once per day, nearly every day, for a little over six months. I know some of you have had it way worse than that, and God Bless ya, because, whew, what I had was certainly bad enough for me. I was able to get the kids through their school days, I prepared our meals, but I felt like I was underwater. I was functioning, but not really engaged with the world.

But the third trimester was okay, and as my due date approached my main concern became whether the husband would be able to make it home in time to get me to the hospital if I went into labor during the day. We're in LA after all, famed for its traffic, and my husband drives all over town for work. My previous labor had lasted an hour and a half, and it could easily take him longer than that to get home during rush hour.

In keeping with my policy of not making a fuss, I would be much more likely to attempt to drive myself to the hospital or just make my nine year old deliver the baby than call an ambulance.

None of my previous labors had been quite textbook, but they had all progressed in a predictable way. So when I woke up in the middle of the night on the 24th of October, with that tightness that I had learned was what my contractions feel like in the first stage, I figured I was having a baby that day.

I got up and did some tidying and answered some emails and watched an episode of Downton Abbey. A half an hour passed, and an hour, and an hour and a half, and not only had I not had a baby yet, I hadn't even had a contraction yet.

It felt like at the beach, when the ocean gathers up the water from the shore, gathers and gathers it until, boom, another wave crashes down. But all I had was the gathering, never the wave. So, eventually, I went back to bed.

In the morning things still hadn't really started, so I sent the husband off to work. Usually he knows better than to listen to me, but really, I hadn't even had a contraction, so off he went. And all day, nothing really happened. Or that night.

It was nuts. I had heard plenty of stories about women having super long labors, but wasn't that always with the first baby? Who ever heard of being in labor for two days with your sixth?

But that's what happened. I sent the husband off to work again the next morning and sat down to do school with the kids, resigned now to the fact that I was never EVER going to have this baby and all I would ever have were these weird almost contractions and I would just be pregnant forever.

I was so convinced of it that I didn't even really notice through the day as the contractions did slowly start to be the real thing. I do remember sitting there at the school table helping Jack with his math . . . with my eyes closed.

"Are you okay Mom?"

"I'm fine, I'm fine. I just . . . Need. You. To. Finish. Your. School. Week."

By the time the husband got home from work that evening I was totally in labor, but still somehow wasn't consciously aware of it. I was making spaghetti for dinner. He thought maybe I should call my doctor and check in.

So I did. As I answered her questions on the phone, I realized that it did kinda seem like I was in labor. So I told her that I just needed to finish up making dinner, then we'd head in. She thought that was pretty hilarious.

She still brings it up sometimes, actually. Apparently it is atypical to finish up making dinner first. But that's what I did.

And even when we got to the hospital, I didn't want to go inside yet, because I wanted to be able to walk around without being hooked up to a lot of stuff. So I asked the husband to drop me off out front while he parked the car. But by time he got back to me from the parking lot walking around outside sounded like the worst idea I had ever heard and, frankly, I was surprised he could even suggest such a thing.

So in we went. But even though I knew the contractions were the real thing now, the whole labor was still a bit lackadaisical. We were in the delivery room, I was all hooked up to the stuff, I was having real contractions, but the husband and I were still able to joke around in between them.

We walked some laps around the hospital, where I got to enjoy this photograph over and over again:

"But wait!" you say. "Didn't you say there was a black and white picture of a baby in some cabbages that bugged you at the hospital in Chicago?" Um, yes I did say that. But according to my husband (and his stupid iPhone photo evidence to prove it), that picture is not in Chicago, nor is it in black and white, and I don't think those are actually cabbages. Which begs the question why I think I can write these birth stories at all if that's the kind of accuracy you're going to get out of me. But hey, it's the last one (until it isn't) so let's just ignore this incident and keep on with it shall we?

My labor and delivery nurse was young and expecting her first baby. She kept coming in to say things like how "cool" she thought it was that we had so many kids. And how she couldn't believe that we were talking and stuff during labor. She was so cute.

But eventually, after over 50 hours of the dumbest labor ever, Frankie was born. He was 7 lbs 5 oz, my littlest baby.

And he was born before bedtime, so my parents were able to bring all the kids over to meet him that very night.

About 30 seconds after they handed him to me, there was a huge commotion outside my room and everyone went running out there. Apparently the next gal hadn't quite made it to the room and gave birth halfway in and halfway out of the elevator. While being held up under the arms by her husband. I could hear them shouting, just put her down, put her down!

Which just goes to show that I don't really have any good birth stories after all. But hey, there's always this next one.

Stay tuned . . .