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.*


I drive a big white van.

Alternate title: A blog post in which I obsess over my big white van and complain about the week and a half that I was without her.

When my husband and I were not quite on the same page about having more than say, six kids, one of his reasons was because he didn’t want to have to drive a fifteen passenger van. He had easily been won over to the mini-van life, as I was, but the idea of a monstrous beast of a vehicle was a bit much for him. When we decided it was going to happen, but before I was actually expecting number seven (the magic number that one needs to officially outgrow mini-van life), we bought our big white van. It had a crazy amount of kilometres, snowboarding decals on the back window, and zero headrests on any of the back seats. But I fell in love instantly.

This was my dream vehicle, people. It meant I had made it into the elite club of crazy people who have way more kids than everyone else. It was a bit intimidating to drive at first, sitting way up high above all the other cars and remembering that it was massively long and therefore could not always fit into conventional parking spots. But I eased into it well enough and got used to the friendly waves of passing Mennonite families driving fifteen passenger vans who thought I was one of them. So cute.

In January of this year, I was rear-ended. It was not a big deal sort of accident, even though it was jarring and made me shriek like an old lady in the moment. I didn’t have the kids with me and was able to drive it away and get the car seats replaced by the insurance company without much of a fuss. We finally got it in for an estimate on the repairs early in the summer and set a date for early September to get it all fixed up.

We got home from our three week long, 6,000 km road trip, on which we had a breakdown and had to replace our alternator (another story) and had another breakdown just days before it was due at the body shop. This meant that we quit driving it through the holiday weekend, waiting for it to be mechanically fixed so we could drive it to the body shop the following week. It all worked out fine and we took it in on the scheduled day.

As we were not at fault for our accident and have a few extra coverages as well, we were provided with a rental vehicle. I went online and applauded myself for finding a local rental company with fifteen passenger vans. Hooray! I booked one for a week, double checked a few things with the insurance company and the body shop and showed up the day of the drop off to pick up a familiar vehicle.

Except they don’t actually have them, apparently. Which they informed someone…who knows who it was, but it wasn’t me. So they booked us a Yukon instead. A huge white brand new Yukon with one too few seats for our family. The kind with super narrow seats and way too many bells and whistles to ever figure out.

We did our best to find a way out of the mess but had to give it up and live with the beast for a week. I realized very quickly that my eleven year old van is just fine for me. There were so many lights and knobs and buttons in that thing and rather than being massively long in the back, it was huge in the front. I will admit that a back up camera is a nice little perk and I might even get one for the van eventually, but otherwise I was very excited to take it right back to the rental company at the end of the week.

On Monday afternoon, two days before the estimated finish of the body work, I called to find out when they thought it would be done. “Oh, it will definitely be done tomorrow.” Hallelujah! A whole day early sounded sublime to me.

Except apparently you shouldn’t trust a body shop when they say things like that. You should, in fact, take it to mean that it will take approximately two full days longer than they have told you so enthusiastically over the phone. Because that’s exactly what happened.

All things said, I have my van back now. All the kids’ seats are back where they belong and I am certain that loading them into it a few times will clear it of the odd cleaning solution smell that the body shop left behind. But oh, please, if this could never happen again and I could just go on driving this thing until it dies for good and then get another one just like it. Please?!