Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The big secret

Oh, blog - you're the last to know, but you'll get the most details!
Right before Halloween I took a pregnancy test, four days late, and it was positive. Very positive. The "you're pregnant" line was much darker than the "this test is working" line.
(I looked it up, because I was panicking about twins. So here's what I learned: that line on the pregnancy test measures your HcG levels - the hormone that increases rapidly when you're pregnant. If your HcG is higher than the average, the "you're pregnant" line will pull pigment from the "this test is working" line. You can have a high HcG level and be carrying a single baby; you can also have an average HcG level and be carrying twins.)

The plan all along was to birth two babies and adopt four kids. Then we birthed two babies and thought we were pretty good at birth and maybe could do it again. Then we read more about overpopulation. I've never blogged about this before, because it feels too controversial, but we felt the ethical thing to do was to not birth again. This was hard. I wasn't as present as I would like to be for a final pregnancy. I didn't revel in the new baby enough, because I didn't expect her to be my last experience. I felt angry and frustrated when we work so hard to do so much right in the world - and having a third baby is something that also has moral implications to ponder before proceeding with a new baby.

But Ren Man didn't want to do anything permanent (a vasectomy was on the table) until I was 100%.
He was also concerned about me, because I get gestational diabetes - so being older and pregnant again wasn't a risk he wanted to take.
We used birth control, a mix of barrier and Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Some months (when I knew a baby wouldn't come right in the middle of wedding season, I was more laxed). Friends had "accidental" pregnancies and I resisted feeling bitter. And most months I was pretty sure I was pregnant. But, nope. Never. Your body thinks it's pregnant, until it's not, every.single.month.
Six years after Del was born I was feeling comfortable with Ren Man getting a vasectomy. We were very beyond the baby stage and had have a lot going on. A baby would slow things down and limit the number of children we could foster/adopt.

Ren Man scheduled his appointment with his doctor to talk about scheduling a vasectomy. He was referred to a urologist. There's one relatively local urologist, who will take our insurance. But he was full. We could contact another one an hour away and see if he would do it. But that whole busy factor kicked in and we put the whole project on the back burner.

We had our last wedding (another awesomely beautiful event - 2014 was stunning) and I was four days late - but sometimes this happens. Maybe you become more irregular as you get older? The time change had recently happened and it was so dark and cloudy. I was so tired and thinking we should get one of those sun lights.
I took the test and was surprised it was positive. But also not. Because it was inevitable - every month, right? But still unbelievable.
I kept the test hidden next to our bed. I finally took a picture on the phone, because it felt weird to be secretly stashing a stick with my pee on it.
After a few hours I showed Ren Man the picture and said we had to figure out how we felt abortions (which had recently come up in conversation because another friend had gone through the exact same thing - about 9mos before us, and they had decided against an abortion).

About five hours later, I was resigned to birthing again and maybe even a little excited.
We had talked about wanting the kids to experience birth, breastfeeding, and babywearing. Ren Man was 10 when his youngest sibling was born and I attribute a lot of his parenting skills to that experience. I'd love for our kids to have that background too.
In the next few days I started looking into homebirth options in this area (not many). I wasn't going to do another birth and not do a homebirth (again). We also talked about when we would tell people. We wanted to make it amazing because we knew this was the last baby (for real this time). We thought a Christmas gift that revealed all would be fun. We counted out the weeks and saw that it would be 13 weeks out. We wondered how big I would be and if we could keep it a secret that long.

I asked Noah what he'd think if we had another kid. His response: "I think we have enough already." And really, at five kids, that's a sensible response. But I asked: "what if it grew it my belly." His response (in a flat tone): "that would be interesting." Not exactly encouraging.

My dad was out of town one week for work and my mom is gone a million hours a day for work, so the first visit with the midwife wasn't a big deal. She came with her midwife-in-training. They got a little lost on the way here, but then realized that of course the place with geese, turkeys, ducks, etc running around would be the place where a home birth would be desired. They asked if I had any concerns, about home birth safety in particular. I said: "no, I know it's safer."

At Thanksgiving, I was tempted to just tell everyone. But we wanted wanted to wait for Christmas. So I hoped no one would notice my belly. I'd started wearing sweatshirts that made the belly less noticeable, but didn't think a sweatshirt as appropriate Thanksgiving Day wardrobe. Ren Man said I just had to keep my belly in until after the meal, then everyone would assume it was a turkey belly.

For the next midwife appointment I met the midwives at a friend's house who has a massage loft-like space in her finished attic. I just thought my dad would be too suspicious of me bringing a few women up to my bedroom. We do have random people over regularly, but no one traipses upstairs - well, not usually. I asked about twins at this appointment, but am measuring appropriately. We also talked about gestational diabetes. I get it every pregnancy because I only have 5% of my pancreas and it can only do so much. My impression is that if it isn't diet controlled this time (as it has been in the past - but harder to do with each pregnancy and as you age), then the home birth is not an option.

After much pinterest-searching (resisting pinning anything baby-related for fear of discovery), we decided to wrap a bottle for each family to open and tie a note to it that said:
"You'll need this when Mommy and Daddy are at weddings. I can't wait to meet you! See you in July.
The New Baby
p.s. Mommy and Daddy are just as surprised as you are."

I also knew that I wanted to tell the kids first - at least the older two. I knew our third kid wouldn't be able to keep this a secret and the younger two wouldn't get it. About three weeks before Christmas I was grumbling about a big sweatshirt (it was hot! But I had to wear it!) and Noah asked why. So I asked if he could keep a secret.
He threw himself into my arms, his head hitting sharply into my teeth. He didn't care. He was SO excited! He wanted to know how big the baby was and then we looked up pictures of how the baby looks right now. He wanted me to eat more so the baby would come faster. We talked about how that isn't how it works.
For the next three weeks, he encouraged me to eat avocados, was careful not to hug me too hard, and was careful not to share the secret.
On Christmas morning I gave him "Babies Don't Eat Pizza" (not that great, but gives a pretty balanced overview - not too hippy not too mainstream). He knew Del would be getting a gift that would reveal the news and he was very very excited. For her, I got the book "Hello, Baby" (great depiction of a homebirth, and an eye-opener for Del because there is an image of the baby between the mom's legs). She didn't get that this meant we were growing a baby at first. So we told her. Her response: (big eyes) "REALLY!?!?!"

And the kids were thrilled to watch the reactions of the grownups when they opened their gift. We arranged it so it would be the last gift opened for both families.
There was shock and tears and more shock and lots of questions. Everyone was impressed that we hadn't spilled sooner and lightbulbs went off like: "That's why you've been so tired!" and suddenly chores were too much for me to do by myself (in my mom's opinion).

So phew! Now the news is out. There's a baby on the way ... and that's how you get 6 kids. And I definitely still do chores (think of all that birth-training-squatting when milking a cow!)
There's been very little nausea, no puking, and tons of tiredness. It was fun to keep it a secret and interesting to feel that I needed to take responsibility of caring for my body even when it seemed like asking too much (like telling my father-in-law we needed to take a break when unloading hay early in the pregnancy because I needed to eat).
We're stressing a bit about finishing the creamery before the baby comes, which would be ideal - but we're needing about $25k to make that happen, on top of life and birth expenses.

Other than that it just feels unreal. This was such a surprise and now that the first trimester is done, it feels less real - except for the ever-growing bellu, and I've started to feel the occasional movement. So when the midwife came last time, I consented to listen to the heart beat (when I really want to avoid doppler/ultrasounds unless medically needed). I didn't expect to feel wowed. I wasn't with Noah (and didn't listen with Del). But this was so cool. It was strong and fast. There's really really a baby growing in there!

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