Joy Ellen Daley
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
8 lbs. 1 oz., 19 3/4 in.
There are many joys and privileges in life, and I count being present at a grandchild’s birth one of the highest. But if I’d blinked, I’d have missed this one.
Joy Ellen has already asserted her independence, coming three days early; her siblings were all late. Except for one friend from church, who prophetically nailed the date exactly, none of us were expecting this to be a February baby.
Perhaps Heather had a subconscious inkling, as she insisted that Jonathan, Noah, and Faith pack their own “birth bags” (toys to play with and special treats) on Tuesday. (Her own preparations had been made earlier.) She had been having unusual contractions for several days, pretty hard for Braxton-Hicks but not “real labor.” They’d happen when she was sitting down and always stopped when she stood up. My theory was that they were special “baby turning” contractions, since the baby had been in the posterior position. Whether I was right or not I don’t know, but she had indeed turned the right way by the time she was born.
Even though I had packed most of my own supplies before going to bed, I was not at all prepared for the knock on my bedroom door less than two hours later. “I’m in labor, Mom!” I felt little sense of urgency, but continued to throw more items into my bag as I thought of them while dressing—such as a flashlight in case this turned into a car birth. Then I saw Heather on all fours during a contraction….
We bundled the three sleepy siblings into the car and settled Heather in the rear middle seat next to Faith, getting underway about 1:20 a.m. Since Dad-o was not with us this time—he was in Connecticut with his dad—Jon did the driving. I was so grateful that it was he and not I that I steadfastly held my tongue as I watched the speedometer. I really wanted to say, “Jon, I appreciate your law-abiding nature, but there are times when it’s okay to exceed the speed limit, and I think this is one of them!” But perhaps he was right—getting pulled over by the police would probably have cost us more in time. I did pay careful attention to the mile markers, however, in case I needed to call 911 and whisper, “My daughter’s giving birth on the side of the road,” hoping all the while they could understand me and not think it was a joke call because I had laryngitis and couldn’t croak out a syllable.
Fortunately, no such measures were needed. We all sighed with relief as we pulled into the birth center’s parking lot. Well, I did, at least. Heather was much too busy moaning.
Jon helped her into the cottage, and I pointed the sleepy boys in the right general direction, then unbuckled Faith and carried her in. Once in the birth room I realized that Jonathan was nowhere to be seen, so I set Faith down in a chair and went on a search mission. I finally found him on a couch in the waiting room—I’d missed him the first time because he was totally covered, curled up under his coat. He said he was comfortable and wanted to stay there.
So I made a trip to the car to bring in supplies. Thus I apparently missed the loud scream as the midwife checked and discovered Heather at 10 cm and the baby ready to be born. (Though later, when we were talking about it and I explained to Jon that I must have been at the car at the time, he still replied, “And you didn’t hear it?”) Arriving back at the birth room, I picked up Faith again, heard the midwife say Heather’s water had just broken, and realized I needed to get Jonathan, pronto! This is the second birth in a row I’ve had to go chasing down the hall for Jonathan—this time because I had no voice to call, but had to run to him and whisper! We arrived just in time to see Joy’s head emerge, and after the midwife removed the single loop of cord from her neck, the rest of her slid out smoothly.
The midwife, forgetting that the plan had Noah assigned the task of determining whether the baby was a boy or girl, made the joyful announcement as she placed the baby on Heather’s chest. Fortunately, Noah didn’t seem to be bothered. We had decided earlier that either Jonathan or I would cut the cord, depending on how we felt at the time, but Jonathan declined and I was both holding Faith and concerned about my cold germs, so the midwife did the job.
All the kids were very excited about the birth, and about having a new sister. Even two-year-old Faith was fine throughout the process, after being reminded that Mommy would be making funny noises but that she was all right. She did put her hands over her ears now and then, however. Noah especially was interested, showing much more curiosity than he had two and a half years ago when Faith was born.
According to the records, we had arrived at the birth center at 2:40 a.m. Heather’s water broke at 2:44, and Joy was born at 2:45!
Everything else seemed to move quickly as well. Joy was named much sooner than her siblings had been. The necessary paperwork was done, and we were on our way. Heather was feeling fine, and much prefers to recover at home. We arrived as dawn was breaking, about 6:30 a.m.
The next day Baby Joy—affectionately known as “Baby Oy” by Noah and Faith—had her first visit with the pediatrician, who pronounced her a fine baby girl. Life here is rather short on sleep, as you might imagine. And I still have no voice. But other than that, everyone is fine, happy, and very grateful!
Labor (hindsight guess): slightly over 4 hours
Driving, 2 hours, 40 minutes
Birthing: 5 minutes
Baby Pool Results: Except for the date, which as I said was nailed by a friend from church, Stephan is the clear winner in every category. Not only did he come closest, but closest by far—and incredibly near the actual numbers. He was only 1 hour and 45 minutes off on the time, 2 ounces off on weight, and 1/4 inch off in length!