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.*

 

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The Tale of Baby Eight (so far)

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m pregnant. Currently 37 weeks, 4 days pregnant. This is baby number eight and this pregnancy has required an incredible amount of faith.

In September of 2016, I was attempting a second VBAC (babies 1-4 all born vaginally, 5 born by (likely) unnecessary cesarean due to breech positioning, 6 VBAC). Labour was dragging on and I finally went in to see if possibly baby was not in the perfect position to be born. He wasn’t – his head was diagonally down but that meant no pressure on my cervix to help with dilation. I was around 1 cm when the obstetrician moved him externally and broke my water, which was heavily stained with meconium. I then spent a few hours labouring before being put on Pitocin to move things along. I was coping well, chatting with my daughter and husband and amazing the nurses with how calm I was. After some time, the nursing staff noticed decelerations in baby’s heart rate and would need me to move positions to get it to come back up to normal. It returned to normal every time but continued to happen in various positions. This, along with the meconium in the amniotic fluid and very slow dilation – I seemed to stall around 6 cm – made them concerned. Finally, close to midnight, the OB came in and decided that this pattern was not indicative of anything positive and we agreed to another cesarean. I was told later that his heart rate was plummeting because he was totally wrapped up in his umbilical cord. I had a hard first day in the hospital and after two nights, when being discharged, I asked the OB how things looked and what his opinion was of my having more children. This was likely a mistake. He had an almost emotional/angry reaction, mentioned a “paper thin uterus” and placenta accreta – a very serious condition that I was completely unaware I had until then, two days after birth. I was crushed. Mike wasn’t with me when this happened, making it even harder to process.

We talked, prayed, cried, talked some more and after a few months decided that we still didn’t feel right about birth control, sterilization, etc. and that we would just trust that if I ever got pregnant again, I would be able to safely carry a child to term. We agreed that it might mean early delivery by c-section, a hysterectomy, etc. but that we were okay with all of that if it came to it. And then we went on with life.

In May of this year, I had a few sudden and unexpected symptoms that led me to believe that I might be pregnant. Trying to avoid being asked if I was pregnant and forced to either tell sooner than I was ready or lie, I didn’t even take a test until I was nine weeks pregnant. By then, it was a formality. We waited until I was thirteen weeks to tell our kids – only three of my friends knew prior to that. I was blessed by an incredibly easy pregnancy through the first and second trimesters and only started to feel *pregnant* close to the third. All through it, I had doctors who thought my chances at VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans) were great. My ultrasound and other things looked totally normal. They treated me just like any other pregnant woman but about two months ago, I was told that hospital policy was being changed to disallow VBA2C in our hospital. Initially I was told that we may be able to go to a hospital two and a half hours away. A month after that, I was told that wouldn’t work, either. So we found an obstetrician in Edmonton – seven hours away from home – who would see me. Two weeks ago, Mike and I flew there on our own for my appointment and a brief kid-free holiday. The appointment was great, we had an ultrasound to look at scar thickness and even got to see a 3D view of our baby’s face. The OB could see no contraindications for me to VBAC again and was very happy with everything he could see. It was a very nice time for us and we came home refreshed and with instructions to come back at 38 weeks.

As of right now, our plan involves staying here and praying hard that this baby will come too quickly for intervention and will be born locally. We have one week for this to happen. If it does not, we will drive to Edmonton on the 2nd of January (a few days after 38 weeks) and stay in a guest house for eight days. If baby doesn’t come by then, we’ll find somewhere else to stay if needed. The OB there is comfortable giving me until 42 weeks which means we could be there for four weeks. This is not at all what we want so we continue to pray for early delivery. But if it takes all of that, it will be worth it. There are many complications that come from repeat cesareans and we have no intention of changing our lifestyle or convictions to prevent future pregnancies. Every day requires faith and the situation honestly feels like a choose your own adventure that we are a part of but not in control of. I have felt a conviction to leave things alone and not do anything to try to induce labour, mess with baby’s position, etc. which requires even more faith.

Every day we give the baby a pep talk and encourage it to come, we pray for delivery to come soon, and I pray for relief from the symptoms of late pregnancy that have made movement, sleep, etc. difficult for me lately. And we remind ourselves not to lean on our own understanding but to look to God to sustain us and make straight our path. We know He will do this and that the outcome will be His plan for us.