Archer Flynn--a birth story.

4:44 PM

Hello again.

   I am hoping to be able to write on here a little more often, not that I've gotten into any sort of routine of any kind (spoiler alert, I haven't) or that I've gotten my feet underneath me and I've got this "raising four little kids thing" down, because once again, I haven't.  But rather, because I am really going to try and prioritize writing more often, and just maybe breaking the silence in this space will help motivate me to keep going.

We shall see.

   Currently, one of my friends is overdue and anxiously awaiting the arrival of her sweet babe, and it has got me thinking about my own little Archer, and his sweet arrival.  He is 4 months old today, and I will echo every mother since the dawn of time in saying that I can hardly believe how fast time is going!  He has been charming us all since the day he arrived and even though my days and life are fuller and busier than ever, they are richer and sweeter too.  I am so grateful for him.

   Like with our first, we didn't know what we were having, and I was hoping for a brother for our little William but I realized that I really kind of wanted a girl too.  So ideally, I would've had boy/girl twins except for the small fact that I was due when William would be turning a mere 15 months old.  So....yeah, maybe twins wouldn't have been a walk in the park.

   We were also planning a home birth with this one, which I have secretly (or not so secretly) always wanted, but hadn't quite been able to convince my husband until child #4.  But this time he indulged me, and I hired a midwife who came to my house for every single appointment, and it was like the Heavens opened up and the angels sang.  I didn't have to drag my kids 30 minutes away to prenatal appointments, and if I happened to forget all about one and was lying in bed in my pjs when they arrived?  No big deal! We just had our appointment anyway.  I won't even tell you how many times that happened.  So yes, QUITE ideal for me.

   All 3 of my previous babies had been born overdue with one being induced, so needless to say, I was planning to go overdue.  My due date came and went, and I honestly barely noticed, because I expected it.  My sisters-in-law and I got pedicures and did a little shopping that day, and it was a nice distraction.  Actually, for the entire week after my due date, my spirits stayed fairly high.  I came and went as normal, visiting friends and going to church.  I wasn't too phased because I expected this.  But then I hit 41.  And 41 and 1 day.  41 and 2 days.  41 and 3 days.  And as the next week progressed on and on I started to get a little panicky.  Will they let me have the baby at home if I go too far overdue?  Will they try to encourage me to be induced?  Will my choices me taken from me again?  I just felt so exhausted and frustrated. I was trying with everything in my power to stay positive because I know how important mental strength is at the end, but I was getting so discouraged.

   The day I hit 42 weeks I had an appointment, and the midwives told me that if I didn't have the baby by the end of the week, I would need to transfer to the hospital.  They checked me and I was only dilated to 2.  They recommended taking castor oil the next day and I did NOT want to (and never have) but I was resigned.  I would if they thought I needed to.

   That evening, I felt contractions come and go, at times painfully, but this was nothing new.  I had been having real contractions (not just practice ones!) on and off for over a week.  And so I didn't pay too much attention.  Randy had a meeting at church and insisted that he would stay home if I wanted him too, but I was a little tired of waiting around for a baby and didn't think anything would happen that night anyway.  "I'll call you if I need to" I said.

   Around 9:00 or so that evening, my friend Esta visited me with food and flowers.  And not just a bouquet, but at least 5 or more vases of gorgeous arrangements.  That will always be one of the sweetest gestures anyone has ever done for me.  She sat down and talked with me and helped me take my mind off of my sorry state.  I remember having several contractions while she was there and smiling through them, hoping she wouldn't notice me grimacing because I was embarrassed that they would hurt and I wasn't even in "real" labor.  When she left, I distributed them around the house and it felt a little like a hospital room after a baby was born....there was just no baby yet!  Not long after she left, I realized it was fairly late and I was feeling uncomfortable enough, I didn't want to be alone, even though I was still doubtful it was real.  I called Randy sometime around 10:30 to come home from his meeting, and of course he insisted we call the midwives as soon as possible even though I wasn't sure we should.

   The midwives arrived and we all chatted as they set out their things and I bounced on the ball, and I started feeling really sheepish and embarrassed.  This wasn't labor.  Why did we call them?  This is my 4th child, I should know better by now than to call them too soon.  At 11:22 I texted a friend, "I think this is it!" because I so desperately wanted to hope that something was happening, and I wanted someone to pray.  If nothing happened that night I was going to be SO discouraged.  But then literally right after I sent the text, I felt like everything slowed down and I didn't feel like I was in labor at all. I excused myself to my bedroom for a while and told Randy I was embarrassed and I thought we should tell the midwives to go home.

   Around 11:30 I told the midwives, "I'm sorry, I just don't think this is happening tonight.  You should probably go home."  They decided they would check me, and if I hadn't progressed much from the 2cm I was that morning, then they would leave.  Much to my surprise and delight, they checked me and I was at a 7!! I felt like dancing.  I couldn't believe my ears, and I thought for a split second that she was joking, as cruel as that would've been.  But she wasn't.  She grinned and said "You are definitely in labor!"  And I wanted to cry.  In a good way.  This baby was FINALLY GOING TO COME.

   They quickly set up the birthing pool and began filling it with water and just then, little Charlotte woke up, wanting a drink.  She was so tired she didn't even seem to realize anything unusual was going on, she was just annoyed she couldn't get any water out of the sink because there was a hose connected to the faucet, ending in a giant pool in the middle of the living room.  Someone got her a drink and she went back to bed, like we do this kind of thing all the time.

  I wanted it to be just us, and I was sure the kids would be fine, but Randy was a little concerned that they would wake up and need him while I was in labor, and so he had his mom come over and stay in their room with them.

   I got into the pool around midnight, and maybe it was the water relaxing me, or distracting me, or both, but things progressed really quickly.  I had printed off some verses onto cardstock and had them laying all around, which Randy read aloud to me and gripped my hands when a contraction came.  My labors always get so intense at the end, especially the ones that are so fast, and at one point, I ripped the polo shirt Randy was wearing as I pulled on him.  To say he is the best labor partner anyone could have is an understatement.  I can't even begin to imagine going through it without him.

   And so it was on Tuesday September 12th, 12:57 am, (just 1.5 hrs after I was sure I wasn't in labor at all and tried to send the midwives home) that our sweet son was born.  Another boy!  A precious baby brother for William.  He was perfect.  I lifted him up out of the water as he was born, clutched him to my chest and sobbed.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  That moment is like nothing else in the entire world.  I would have 1,000 babies if I could for that moment alone.  Everything fades away....the pain, the wait, the agony....there is nothing and no feeling and no awareness of anything except the sweet, fresh newness of life on my chest and in my arms, and my heart is exploding into a million tiny pieces and raining down in tears onto my newborn baby's head.  I wish I could live it over and over and over again.

   Even though we didn't know what he was yet, it took me a while to even look to see because I was so caught up in that magical moment.  And then we finally looked and saw we were blessed with a BOY.  We named him Archer Flynn.  Flynn means "son of the red-haired one" and is also a nod to the middle name that both Randy and I share, "Lynn".  Archer means "bowman" and William means "resolute protector or defender" and so I love the idea of talking to my grown sons about their names and reminding them about the very real battle they will face in this life.  I hope they grow to be mighty warriors for God.

  My mother-in-law got the girls up, and I'm so glad that she did.  Jocelyn came out and saw Archer mere moments after he was born.  We were still in the tub together, cord still attached, and tears were streaming down my face for joy.  Jocelyn immediately fell into her role as 2nd mom, wanting to hold him and telling the midwives to cut the cord and giving other instructions.  Charlotte saw him a little after when I had gotten out, and the poor dear was still so tired and delirious, I'm not quite sure what all she understood.  Turns out little William slept through the entire thing.  When he woke up, he was delighted to meet this new little creature and tried his hardest to give him full-body bear hugs and poke his eyes, mouth and any other place his little fingers could reach.  I could tell he loved him from the start.  Oh, what friends those two will be.

   Life since, has not always been like a vacation.  Four little children under the age of 6 come with a lot of needs, and they are all different.  There are times I feel like I'm missing everyone and doing nothing well.  Laundry piles up and bathrooms get grimy and the girls need to learn to read and the boys need quality time and I need a nap.  Sometimes there are 2 (or more) crying at once, and it seems there is never quite enough of me to go around.  But we are learning and adjusting and growing, and His mercies are new every day.  I couldn't be more grateful and tankful for my little crew, and warts and all, they are mine and we're BLESSED.

Of all 4, it was my best birth and recovery.  I credit the comfort of being home, and the quality care and cooking of Randy and my mom-in-law, but mostly I credit the loving mercy of God, that I BEGGED for in prayer in those weeks leading up to Archer's birth.  I was ridden with anxiety at the thought of going through labor again after William's.  His felt like it was going to kill me.  And the thought of facing that pain made me weak in the knees.  But I prayed fiercely for it.  I asked people to pray for me too, and though I would never presume that those with a different experience must've not prayed enough, I do believe that God heard my prayers.  Prayer, and how it all works, is a total mystery to me.  But that birth experience did wonders for growing my faith, and seeing the truths of Scripture lived out.  He really will be near to those who ask.  

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