The Birth of Owen Anthony

On Monday, April 19th, at eight days past my due date, I had my last prenatal appointment. It was possibly the best one I’ve ever had, especially so late in pregnancy. The doctor confirmed that baby was head down – a relief because he was transverse at my previous appointment. He then asked me if I wanted to come in and be induced. I said no. He said okay. He asked me if I wanted a membrane sweep. Declined that as well. No problem. He asked me how long I was comfortable going over. I said I felt totally fine about going to 42 weeks. I told him that I was happy to go in for non-stress tests to make sure baby was happy but I definitely wouldn’t want to be induced without good cause because of past experiences. I explained how things had gone when Lucas was born and how an aggressive pitocin induction was something I wanted to avoid. In the end I agreed to go back on Thursday afternoon for a non-stress test and I left the clinic feeling excited and confident. I had two appointments with this doctor in a row and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one who was this relaxed, especially considering my history and perceived risk factors. I felt I had full autonomy and that he wanted me to be the one calling the shots.

On Tuesday night I realized that I was a little bit afraid of the unknown – if I was going to go until 42 weeks or be induced, whether I would get the intervention free birth we had prayed for or not. I repented for that fear of the unknown and had a good four and a half hour sleep without interruption. At 4 in the morning, I woke up suddenly wondering if I might have peed myself. I knew it was very unlikely but I was just not expecting anything like this. The bed wasn’t wet but I knew something had happened. I jumped out of bed realizing that it might possibly be my water breaking. I started leaking as I speed-waddled to the bathroom. I made it to the toilet but the gush came before I could sit down. This was unmistakable. It was also the first time my water had broken outside of the hospital and was only the second time my water had broken on its own. The fluid was totally clear which was immediately reassuring. The funny thing was that this was something I had prayed for a few times, knowing how unlikely it was that my normal pattern would change from past births.

I woke Mike up and adrenaline kicked in. He was just as excited as I was. We got up, had breakfast and I started feeling some cramps and then very mild contractions. They became more intense but never really became painful. We were playing worship music and I was sort of trying to get things moving but at six I started feeling really tired. I told Mike that I wanted to go back to bed, even if all I could do was rest. We turned off all the lights and music and went back to bed. I dozed for about an hour total, even though I was still quite restless. Mike confirmed that I was asleep because he heard “the sweet sound” of my snoring. When I’ve struggled with sleep through this pregnancy, he has loved hearing me snore because it meant I wasn’t struggling. ❤ I was aware of some contractions while I was in bed but mostly ignored them and they definitely slowed down.

At eight, Mike got up to get the youngest boys some breakfast and I had a burst of energy and decided that it wouldn’t hurt to take a few laps around the block. We woke Jenny up and told her that things were happening which was absolutely thrilling for her. I was so glad at that point that we had time to let her sleep longer. We went twice around the block and things picked up again. I wasn’t timing them but Mike said if he could guess, the contractions at that point were 20 metres apart. 😂

When I decided I was done walking, we went inside and I used my birth ball a bit and eventually went back to bed and finished an episode of One Born Every Minute I had started the night before (a labour and delivery show, of course). My contractions were obviously stronger and getting closer to something I could call painful. That time is still very fuzzy to me – I know I moved around in a few different positions and tried to rest and breathe through contractions. I was messaging my sister and a friend in the States about my progress during this time as well. At around 11:30, Mike came in and we talked a bit and I asked him to run the bath for me. I knew the water would feel good and that if things suddenly progressed, it would be the easiest place to contain any mess made by birth, even though I was certainly not sure it would happen there. At this point, I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to wait as long as possible to avoid intervention in the hospital. Mike was 100% on board with the idea of staying home for the whole thing but I wasn’t quite there.

I got in the bath at noon (thank you, timestamps on conversations with my sister…I was totally unaware of the time for most of the day). I had a birth playlist playing with worship music that I had made during my last pregnancy and a mixture of orange, lavender and frankincense oil in a diffuser as it was a scent I was really enjoying at the end of pregnancy. As things progressed in the bath, I prayed, sang between contractions and made declarations of what this birth was doing in me. I knew God was giving me a testimony even though I didn’t know the outcome yet. One amazing thing that happened was that while the playlist was on shuffle, each song that played seemed to be exactly what I needed at each moment during the next two hours. I know that was the Holy Spirit ministering to me.

For half an hour, things picked up but were manageable. I could tell I was out of early labour at least. At 12:30, I prayed that the baby would come in half an hour and decided that I would probably want to head to the hospital at that point if it hadn’t happened. I told Mike this and he stayed close by after that. Some time later, I asked him between contractions what time it was and he said it was 1:18. I knew this was outside my time frame but I felt I was managing just fine and I didn’t really want to get out yet.

It was likely not more than twenty minutes after that when I started feeling a bit overwhelmed and realized I might be in transition already. It was so different not being checked for dilation this time so I was just going off of how I felt. It was getting hard to manage and feel in control and I expressed this to Mike a few times. I absolutely thought a few times that I wanted to be in the hospital where there was nitrous and possibly stronger drugs. Mike was nothing but encouraging, praying for me and reminding me that I was made to do this. I never really made a decision about staying in the bath but if someone had tried to get me out at that stage, I definitely could not have moved. I could barely change positions and eventually got fully “stuck” in a semi-reclined sitting position.

After three or four of these transition contractions, I started feeling pressure. Not really an urge to push, but more like my body was moving him down. I assume it was probably around 2:00 that I knew I needed to push. I felt to see if baby’s head was obviously coming and it was probably halfway down the birth canal already. I had hoped to really experience fetal ejection reflex and let my body push this baby out without pushing the way I had always been coached to do. In the moment, though, I had this instinctual feeling that this baby needed some help getting out and I was going to have to put some hard work in here. I won’t lie – it was very hard. I’ve had babies between low seven pounds and mid nine and this took a lot more effort than my littlest ones. As I was pushing, I heard an audible pop and knew it was my tailbone – this had happened when I had Jenny nearly sixteen years ago and it led to six months of recovery from a bruised or broken tailbone. In the moment, it didn’t hurt but I couldn’t ignore the sound.

I knew exactly when baby was crowning and I definitely said something about how much it hurt but didn’t actually tell Mike that he was crowning. Then once his head was out I may have said something or maybe he just looked for himself but he was astonished that I was that far because in the hospital, he had always seen the baby’s head long before then. I pushed again and felt like I had to give birth to a second head – I can only assume his shoulders were broad because I don’t remember any of my other babies taking that kind of effort.

Mike reached down for him once the first shoulder was out and lifted him out once both came. He was still underwater until that point. He picked him up out of the water and I reached down for him. I immediately felt as I put my hand under his bum that he was a boy – not a surprise at all to me. He was making a bit of noise, was definitely purple but not limp, and right away I saw the bath was totally brown – he had pooped at the end at some point, quite possibly when I was pushing because that was the first time we saw any evidence of meconium. He also had a thick coating of vernix on his back which I had never seen on my other babies. I rubbed his back, flicked his feet a few times and scooped some mucus out of his mouth. I had watched some unassisted birth videos and also had a few friends who had their babies unassisted so I knew what to do if a baby was struggling a bit at first. Very quickly he pinked up and started crying. This happened fast and somewhere in there Mike looked at the time and called 2:12 pm for time of birth. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say pushing took no more than ten minutes.

Jenny was apparently listening at the door at the end and heard me pushing but didn’t believe I could be so close already. It felt like a long time but I was only in the bath for two hours before I started pushing. Once she heard a cry, she came in fast and totally stunned and excited. Shortly after that, Mike covered me with a towel and the boys all crowded in to the bathroom to see their new brother.

I nursed him right away and waited for the placenta to come. This is a part of my birth stories that I’ve likely never bothered to tell in the past but it was so different again that it seems important (also might come across as TMI if you’re just not into birth like I am). I knew it should come within an hour or so and could feel pressure but couldn’t push in the position I was in. Eventually I knew I would have to stand up so I carefully passed Owen to Mike and shortly after the placenta came easily and I caught it myself. We asked Jenny to get a bowl but should have said a bucket because she grabbed a frequently used salad/chip/popcorn bowl from the kitchen. Thankfully it was old and cheap. 😂

After this point, we did everything with a baby wrapped up in a towel and a placenta in a salad bowl. Mike did his best to clean things up and prevent a bigger mess from being made and we eventually were able to move to our bedroom so I could rest while we decided what to do next. Elias made me probably the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had and I phoned the hospital to explain the situation and see what they would advise. I suspected I had torn so I thought it best to at least go in to get checked.

The decision was made that we would go in, cord attached to placenta and all and get checked out. I assumed we would stay the night so I brought my hospital bag along. We left home at around 4:45. I had a very small first degree tear that required two stitches and otherwise everything was fine. I never had an IV or even the standard shot of oxytocin in the thigh that they typically give you when baby is out. I said to Mike later that this was truly an intervention free birth – far beyond what I expected as I thought I would have to either fight care providers for what I wanted and make people angry or give in and compromise on my hopes for this birth. The staff were all very kind and some of them familiar from past births – I told them very honestly that I hadn’t really planned to stay home but that there came a point where I just couldn’t get out of the bath anymore. No one scolded me or questioned that decision at all, which was a relief.

The biggest shock I had in the hospital was his birth weight. I only gained twenty-five pounds this pregnancy and never felt or looked huge at all. I had an inkling that I had a long baby – he was 20 3/4″ – but thought from holding him that he was around eight and a half pounds. I believe the nurse said something along the lines of “hold onto your hats” when she told us his weight – 9 lb 13 oz! My biggest baby! Jenny had held the record for nearly sixteen years.

We were originally told we could go home roughly twenty-four hours after his birth but due to antibodies I had during pregnancy and a pediatrician who seemed to want something to be worried about, it took us a bit longer than we had hoped. We have been dealing with him and odd blood results all week now, honestly putting a damper on the first week at home, especially when Owen seems to be perfectly healthy and has no obvious symptoms of the issues the pediatrician is concerned about. We will hopefully have some more clarity on that within the next few days and be done with all the follow up.

Owen is being well loved and snuggled by everyone here and no one has expressed any disappointment that he is a boy. My recovery has only been made difficult by the tailbone injury and that seemed to be at its worst about three days postpartum and has been improving since. Owen nurses well and sleeps soundly in between feeds and lovely alert periods where we all oooh and aaah over him and his big eyes. He looks almost identical to Ben as a newborn which is amazing and he has jet black hair and fairly dark skin – completely opposite Lucas who is blonde and very pale.

This birth experience was full of answers to prayer and outright miracles. Here I am, a “geriatric” mother, a woman who has many children, putting me at higher risk of hemorrhage (although I have never hemorrhaged), a woman with two previous cesareans and a history full of inductions and other interventions that have truly made me lose faith in my ability to labour and birth naturally. I have had only one other fully natural labour and all the others had at least one type of undesirable intervention. Many led to the “intervention cascade” that leaves women feeling like they are broken and certainly left me feeling that way at times.

One of the miracles of this birth was that our children got to meet their baby brother immediately after his birth. They have always had to wait at least a few hours but this time, they would not have been allowed to come to the hospital to see us, due to covid policies. Jenny has always wanted to come to a birth and did come when Simon was born but that ended in a cesarean so she missed seeing an actual birth. She didn’t witness Owen’s birth but was there moments later which was so special for her.

Another interesting answer to prayer is that I had half jokingly said that I was praying for a two hour labour. I genuinely did pray for it but when my water broke at four and I didn’t have a baby at six, I decided that one wasn’t being answered. But then when I looked back, I realized that labour was so manageable until around noon that my “real” or active labour was really only two hours long. I’ve had many hours of labour that intense in past births and I was so glad to only have two hours of intensity like that and really less than one hour of the kind of labour that sometimes makes you feel like you can’t actually do it.

Mike and I both knew that an intervention free birth – at home or in the hospital – would minister healing to both of us. He was absolutely amazing throughout this experience and made me feel so loved and blessed to be his wife. He did everything I needed him to do and in the end, we just thanked God over and over and knew that this prayer had been answered – we both feel so healed from the damage done in past birth experiences.

Throughout this pregnancy we have been blessed to have a community of people around us who have truly become family. They have encouraged us and prayed for us all along and have rejoiced with us in welcoming a new son in this incredibly unique way. And since his birth, many have brought food and baking and given generously to us so that we can soak in this time and not be under the pressure that running a large household can bring, particularly in the area of meals. I really believe that we could not have done this so confidently without these beautiful people in our lives.

Our sweet boy
All NINE of our beautiful kids

The Birth of Lucas Robert

For part one of this story – all that happened going to Edmonton to have a supported birth – click here: The Journey to Lucas. Now brace yourselves, this is a long one.

On the morning of January 19th, I was wide awake at six, making sure I would hear my phone if it rang calling us in for an induction. Back home, inductions are scheduled for a specific time – usually eight a.m. or so – and you just show up at that time. If they’re too busy, they send you home until they can fit you in. At the Royal Alex, they tell you to be by your phone from six a.m. to six p.m. and if you don’t hear from them by the end of the day, you’ll have to wait for the next morning. We went to bed hoping it would either be first thing or wait until we had breakfast and could get the rest of the kids over to Mom and Dad’s hotel. I finally decided around six fifteen that I should get whatever sleep I could manage and then slept almost another two hours. We got up and had breakfast at the Guest Home and then made sure everyone had their bathing suits, a change of clothes and pajamas in case they needed to stay overnight at the hotel and then we headed to West Edmonton.

We figured since we hadn’t heard anything yet, we may as well take advantage of the pool and hot tub before we got a call. The hot tub was not insanely hot so I had a good opportunity to soak for awhile and to watch the kids enjoying the pool. As I mentioned in my last post, I had a thought around eleven thirty that it was possible that the hospital was calling our home phone number. I checked our messages and had one from them so I found a quiet place and phoned the induction and assessment ward. Sure enough, they had called me just after nine and again at eleven fifteen. The nurse suggested we come in at two and I agreed. She told us to have lunch and show up any time between two and three. We said goodbye to the kids and went to Red Lobster for a splurgy last meal before the induction.

We got to the hospital around two thirty and after some paperwork, I was put on a monitor for around forty minutes and given an IV lock. At the end of that time, they found baby’s heart rate had a few minor decelerations (very likely when he was moving a lot) so they put me back on it before moving forward with the induction. I was told by my nurse at the time that this was all due to my being a VBAC. Serious heart decels without recovery are a sign of rupture so they always have to be certain this is not happening. We were certain of that ourselves but felt a little trapped by policy so we put up with it for the next hour or so. I had been checked at some point and found to be no more than two centimetres dilated but soft enough that everyone figured the Foley bulb would not do much but just fall out. Pitocin was the only option on the table at that point.

During the waiting, I found out that they had no record of my GBS (group B strep) test from home, even though I had called our birthing centre and asked them to fax it two weeks prior. I had verbal confirmation that it was negative but they wanted proof on paper. So we waited awhile longer while they tracked it down. I had been drinking water leading up to the actual induction but was warned that I would be under a no food or drink order once the Pit was started. I knew this was based on outdated research and typically worked against women, but I wasn’t hungry at all after the huge lunch I had so I didn’t fight it. Just about every nurse and doctor I encountered said I could have ice so we stuck with that when I needed it. Thankfully hunger didn’t set in until after Lucas was born.

It was around six forty-five when they finally started me on the lowest dose of Pitocin. It was raised by a small amount every half hour and I started having contractions that were increasingly strong but not painful. This continued through being moved to labour and delivery and until around ten o’clock. There were a few times when the Pitocin was slowed down or turned down but the nurses kept turning it up because my contractions would space out a bit more. Personally, I feel now that I would have had an overall better labour if they had let them slow down and see if my body was taking over but it was hard and fast on Pitocin the whole night.

During the first few hours, I remembered the birth playlist I had made on Spotify of worship songs that had particularly spoken to me during pregnancy. I put it on and it stayed on until it ended and then another one played until well after Lucas was born. This may have been the first labour where I’ve actually had music playing and it was a very calming thing to have in the room, especially when things got more difficult later on.

I was still texting my friend at ten minutes to ten saying I was feeling fantastic with strong but not really painful contractions. I don’t know exactly when that changed but sometime between then and midnight, I started feeling pain and baby started having serious decelerations in his heart rate. It seemed again (like Simon’s birth) that position had something to do with it because it would recover if I moved onto my side or shifted somehow. My recollection of this time is very fuzzy, in part because I started relying on the gas to get me through contractions (sorry to any of you who don’t have access to laughing gas during labour – it’s incredible stuff). It worked amazingly well to keep me coping and let me rest between contractions. A few hours of that, however, and I was feeling totally exhausted and wishing it would all be over already. I had been at five or six centimetres for awhile without change and was starting to feel discouraged on top of being so tired. The heart rate decels hadn’t gotten much better either.

When we were first moved to L&D, the nurse taking us there looked over and said, “So, epidural?” in a positive tone like she knew I was going to say, “Yes, of course!” I looked at her funny instead and said, “Um, I hope not.” She told me I had to read the papers and that they would prefer I sign them then so I didn’t ask for it later when I was – and I quote – “writhing in pain.” I laughed, knowing it’s not like me to writhe in pain in any labour, and said I wouldn’t need it but I would read and sign them because it wasn’t an order for them, just consent if I changed my mind. I had no intention of changing my mind at that point.

Back to the gas, passing out, feeling exhausted, etc and I remembered a few birth stories where women had felt like I did, had good progress in dilation, then got an epidural, rested for an hour or so and delivered their babies. I heard God say, “Humble yourself,” and I knew what it meant. “This is totally out of left field for me, but I think I’m considering an epidural,” I told the nurse. She said we could certainly consider it since I was well established in labour but that the anesthesiologist was in the OR at the time. She put in the request and offered me some Fentanyl to get me through a contraction or two. It may have helped but I was still using the gas as well and the dose didn’t last long at all. It was during this time of waiting that I decided that my bladder felt full but I couldn’t do anything about it. I asked for a catheter, knowing that sometimes a full bladder can hold baby back from descending properly. The nurse said usually they would do that after the epidural but that it was probably a good idea to take care of it while we waited. I’ve had three catheters prior to spinals and while it’s not fun, I knew it wouldn’t compare to the contractions I was having and it might bring me closer to delivery. I was willing to try almost anything at that point. After the cath was in, the nurse started getting a second dose of Fentanyl ready when the doctor came in to do the epidural. This was likely around one thirty in the morning, although I was certainly not looking at the clock during that time.

I sat up, made it through a contraction or two and then endured the never comfortable experience of having needles put in your back. I’ve only ever had spinals for my cesareans and for Oliver’s birth when an ECV was needed and the OB wanted to be prepared for a cesarean. An epidural was basically the same experience but instead of immediately falling over numb, I was told it would take fifteen minutes to work. I laid down on my back to let it start working and baby’s heart rate fell drastically. I was moved onto my side to bring it back up but then told that the epidural would be one sided if I stayed that way so onto my back I went. Heart rate went down again and I rolled onto my other side. Meanwhile the epidural was definitely not working yet. At this point, I started to feel like pushing, which felt like the best thing ever after what I had gone through. A quick check was done and I was told I was only seven centimetres which meant, “Don’t push!” During the next few minutes (probably less than five), I fought pushing while we listened to baby’s heart rate drop and not recover.  A scalp monitor had been put in sometime between the Fentanyl and the epidural and so we knew it wasn’t just the external monitor falling off my belly (something that happened all day and drove me crazy…darned continuous monitoring).

The on call doctor was there at the time and when the heart rate was fifty something and I was starting to feel things going in the direction of Simon’s birth, she checked me to see if I might possibly be fully dilated yet. I heard her say, “Seven,” and then, “Vacuum,” but didn’t put anything together right away. She then increased her volume considerably and yelled at me, “Okay, hold your legs up, hold your breath, get angry and push as hard as you possibly can!!” I was confused – she had just said I was still seven centimetres. What happened that I could push suddenly? Doesn’t she know pushing against a cervix that isn’t fully dilated can make it swell and stop labour in its tracks? She yelled again, “GET ANGRY! PUSH!!” and I did what I could. Not good enough, apparently, “NO! You have to  hold your breath and push as hard as you can!” So I gave it my best, felt every moment of that baby’s head coming down and stretching and then suddenly he was out.

Mike looked down and whispered to me, “It’s a boy!” With how fast everything went, I just looked around and started saying, “What just happened?!” Lucas was put on my chest as soon as his cord was clamped and I marveled at him and the fact that I had just delivered him vaginally, despite having so much against us. Official time of birth was one forty-four a.m., meaning seven hours of Pitocin and probably around three and a half hours of active labour at the end.

I figured pushing had taken five minutes but Mike said it was no more than three and probably closer to two. Then I found out why I could push before the OB ever said, “ten.” She had checked, found me still at a seven and quickly decided to manually stretch me to ten centimetres and use a vacuum, rather than make the call to do another cesarean. Unlike most people’s assumptions, I did not feel anything other than what a normal cervical check feels like late in labour. I am so incredibly grateful for that quick and rather unconventional thinking. The nurse said afterward that any other doctor would have had me in the OR. Dr. Patel was apparently the only doctor who would do something like that. I’ve since learned that it’s not an uncommon practice for midwives to employ in certain situations like mine but is often frowned upon.

What amazes me still is that I flew to Edmonton in December to meet Dr. Mayo, someone rumoured to be fantastic about VBACs even after multiple cesareans. He then had surgery and Dr. Sklar took over. I saw Sklar twice during our two and a half weeks in Edmonton prior to the induction. During labour, I only saw the on call doctor on the assessment side, a resident, and Dr. Patel. We had prayed for the right staff to be there at the right time and in almost every case, it seemed that we had exactly that. With only one exception, all the nurses leading up to birth were kind and attentive and Dr. Patel was exactly what I needed at the end.

Because of the vacuum and the speed of delivery, I did have a second degree tear that was rather extensive. The resident stitched while the OB observed and coached but it still didn’t take more than fifteen to twenty minutes. The hardest part about that was not being in a good position to start nursing Lucas. He was calm through the whole thing but I always like to get them nursing as soon as possible.

Mike was nearly passing out tired through the last two or three hours of my labour, having an actual nap once or twice, and so once the stitching was done, Lucas was weighed and he had a chance to hold him, he said goodnight and went back to the Guest Home. It was probably close to three in the morning at that point. I stayed in the labour and delivery room long enough to nurse baby for awhile and then went downstairs to the postpartum ward. I very much missed the lovely all in one rooms we have at the hospital at home, especially the privacy, as I was roomed with someone else whose husband was snoring away in the recliner next to her and whose entire extended family seemed to show up the next day and stay almost the entire time. A shared bathroom with a rolling door that doesn’t lock didn’t help matters.

In all, we only stayed at the hospital around twenty hours after Lucas was born. We had to check out of the Guest Home the next day and I didn’t want Mike to have to pack up and get all the kids out without my help. I felt great aside from fairly minor pain from my stitches so it wasn’t hard at all to leave so quickly. We had some issues with birth registration that will take awhile to sort out, mostly because it’s done so differently in Alberta and I was misinformed at the hospital on how to fill out some of the paperwork. We spent two nights with Mike’s sister an hour away from Edmonton and then drove about halfway home on the twenty-third and came the rest of the way on the twenty-fourth, exactly three weeks from the day we drove to Edmonton. We spent thousands of dollars and it was easily one of the most challenging experiences we’ve ever had but we came home with a beautiful healthy baby and a successful VBA2C which was the entire reason we went away.

I know now that I should have probably avoided induction at all costs but we really did feel that we needed to get our family home. After adding up all we spent while we were away (including the van repair), I’m not sure we could have managed the costs of lodging any longer without burning through every penny of our savings and going into debt. We cannot change the way this labour went but if we have more children, it will likely change what we do then.

In terms of recovery, I did have to have a donut cushion to sit on for the drive home and made use of my lovely bathtub once I got here to have some Epsom salt baths but one week in and I wasn’t feeling my stitches anymore. That absolutely trumps six weeks of pain and tenderness after a cesarean!

Lucas is two weeks old now and an absolute doll. He is a peaceful baby and gets passed around all day, cherished particularly by his sister, who doesn’t mind another brother at all. I marvel a bit at having seven sons. Clearly God has a plan for us to raise up Godly men, and honestly, I’m a bit of a boy mom after having nothing but boys for twelve years. Jenny is a softening presence for her younger brothers and they have thoroughly toughened her up so she can handle a lot more than many girls her age.

One of the blessings of coming back was coming home to a very clean house, thanks to Mike’s mom, and to a stocked fridge and freezer, thanks to the ladies at our church. We haven’t received hot meals like every baby before this (although I think one or two may come yet) but haven’t had to be incredibly creative or shop much at all.

If you’ve made it this far, your reward is a picture of our sweet boy. He has so much hair and the sweetest little chin and lips. We can’t quite decide who he looks like just yet but like all our kids, I’m sure he’ll fit in without looking just like anyone else.

2019-01-31 17.09.17-1


The Journey to Lucas (Birth Story prequel)

A somewhat dry retelling in the form of a timeline of the two and a half weeks leading up to the birth of baby number eight, Lucas Robert.

My most recent post explains the why behind going to Edmonton:

The Tale of Baby Eight (so far).


January 3rd: Left home late morning for Edmonton. Got about 45 minutes away from our destination and broke down. Waited two hours for taxis to come get us and paid over $220 to get to where we were staying that night.

January 4th: Found out van cannot be looked at until Monday, rented a car to at least be able to get groceries and pick up the van when finished. Also found out that lodgings we thought were booked for eight nights were actually only available for three. Started making plans to find a hotel for a few nights and then look at AirBnB.

January 5th: I went to the hospital for a bit of monitoring as I wasn’t feeling great and hadn’t been to the doctor in awhile. Stayed way longer than I expected but figured out that it was likely just extreme fatigue and swelling from driving making me feel off.

January 6th: Took the kids on the LRT for a little adventure downtown. Had lunch, walked around and got back in time to pack up and move out. Friends helped us move to the Staybridge Inn and Suites in West Edmonton and brought us supper later on. Mike went to check in at the hotel and found that they would not honour the price they had quoted us on the phone. He also found at this time that he had lost his credit card. Thankfully our friend was still there and offered his to cover incidentals. As we were checking in, we found out that there was a planned power outage for the following day – a day we had hoped to have relaxing at the hotel but now would need to fill with some sort of activity elsewhere. Definitely felt attacked at this point.

January 7th: A little bit of complaining got us a better rate than the original quoted amount on the room which was a relief. We spent a good deal of the day at the West Edmonton Mall, after ferrying over in groups as the rental car couldn’t actually carry all of us at once. Went back to the hotel after the power outage and got a complimentary sushi dinner in place of their normal Monday evening complimentary meal. Kids used the pool twice that day and things felt a bit better by the end of the day.

January 8th: Picked up our van and returned the rental car just in time to check out of the Staybridge. Van repairs cost $1200, quite a lot more than we first anticipated. Moved from one West Ed. hotel to another, this time the Sandman. Mike called the day before and asked about a few places that would take a debit card hold (due to missing credit card) and specifically for one with a pool. We were assured that this one had a pool. We showed up and the first thing we saw was a sign saying that their pool and hot tub were unavailable due to renovations. Front desk had already upgraded our rooms (we had two booked next to each other) to suites. After looking at one and finding it large enough, we were able to get them to cancel the second room which saved us almost $300. They also gave us vouchers for Denny’s that we used the first morning for breakfast.

January 9-11th: The Sandman was a fairly restful place to stay. A full kitchen in the suite enabled us to make most of our own meals and save money on eating out. Other than going to a doctor’s appointment and going back to West Ed Mall for the sea lion show, we stuck close to the hotel and rested. Checked out Friday morning and moved back to the Mennonite Guest Home. Earlier in the week, we had been able to go and do laundry there and we had left some things in storage so we wouldn’t have to move everything around. Going back there was like going home. It’s a very comfortable space and we had a lot of privacy even in the shared living room and kitchenette downstairs. We met new people almost every day and got breakfast every morning we stayed there.

January 12th: My due date. Met Mike’s sister and her family at Ikea to let the kids play, have lunch and do a bit of shopping.

January 13th: Went to church not far away from the Guest Home and were blessed by a great message. The children’s program coordinator happens to be the daughter of Mike’s parents’ pastor and the sister of a friend of mine. They knew about our situation and had been praying for us so we felt it would be good to visit there. After eating lunch at the house, we went on the LRT again and rode it in both directions as far as the tracks go. We picked up a chicken at Safeway near one of the stations and went back “home” to eat supper. We were under the impression that we would be checking out on Tuesday but found out that day that our room was needed again for Monday night. Went back to the drawing board for another hotel for two nights because at the same time, we were told we could come back on Wednesday night and stay until the following Monday.

January 14th: Checked out and went to North Edmonton this time, to the Fairfield Inn and Suites. Stayed for two nights, enjoyed a pool with a waterslide and free breakfast. Took the kids to a Korean restaurant on the second night and everyone loved it.

January 16th: After a doctor’s appointment where my induction was scheduled for the 19th, checked out of the Fairfield and headed back to the Guest Home. Again, we felt like we were going home and by this point, we were well known by the volunteers and house parents so they felt a bit like family, too.

January 17th: Got a text from Mike’s parents asking if they could help. Knowing we were going in for an induction and having no idea how long it would take, we said it would help if someone could be there with the kids. They agreed to come down to help out and left home the next morning.

January 18th: Mike’s parents got to Edmonton along with his sister and her kids. We had been told to expect a phone call between 6am and 6pm on the 19th to call us in for the induction so we went to their hotel and made plans with them on how they would pick up the kids and when.

January 19th: Had my phone right next to me first thing in the morning but no phone call. Got up, had breakfast and then got everyone ready to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s hotel. They had a pool and hot tub so we brought our swimsuits, too, figuring we may as well enjoy that before we got a call from the hospital. At around 11:30am, I had a thought that possibly they were calling our home number, something the clinic had from when I was first referred there. Called home and found a message from them and when I phoned back, found they had called me twice already at that number. They suggested that we should go have some lunch and come in between 2 and 3. I wanted Red Lobster so after saying goodbye to the kids, we went for lunch and took our time.

After this, it becomes a birth story so I will stop here and tell the rest in another post.


*A note about what happened when things finally settled down (after the 8th). Mike noticed that while we were feeling attacked, we were almost always seeing a benefit to what happened – saving the money at the Sandman, getting free food vouchers, etc. God provided each time above and beyond the initial bad news. We also believe we will see financial restoration as this trip, with lodging, food, van repair and other costs, has drained our savings account almost completely. He has always provided so we know He won’t stop now.*