Sometimes the best way to have a baby is to talk to a stupid phone nurse.
Let's review: with both Asher and Silas, I had three or four days of early labor stuff - irregular contractions, tummy trouble, nesting, etc. - followed immediately by a baby. I didn't necessarily know what was happening at the time, but that's the way it went. With Emmy, I started having early labor symptoms at week 35. As all of you WELL know, the result was that I have been PERCHED, expecting to hold her any stinking minute, since about Thanksgiving.
Maddening, friends. Crazy-making.
So I'd given up. A c-section was scheduled for January 6, and that was the day I would meet her. Until then - nesting? Why yes I am, but it doesn't mean anything. Contracting? Seven minutes apart for two hours, thankyouverymuch. But no baby.
Then, on Thursday, I started feeling bad. Everything I ate made my stomach hurt. In general I make attempts to pay attention to my body, and decided if it hurt to eat, it would be best not to. The result, of course, was that I got dehydrated.
Which causes contractions.
Friday, mid-morning, I called my doctor. I knew I wasn't in labor - I've been in labor before, and this wasn't it - but because of previous complications during birth I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something. Of course, my doctor is on vacation (not that I begrudge him one week a year to travel to see his family, don't get me wrong), and it's a holiday, so the office is closed. Which means I'm now at the mercy of whomever answers the phone at the hospital. The doctor on call from my practice was delivering a baby (of course) so they put me through to the phone nurse.
Who told me - are you ready for this? - I had a stomach virus.
I'm 32 years old. I have two other children. I am well acquainted with stomach viruses. And this ain't it.
So we called Halle, our expert on All Things Maternal. She said it could be something wrong, or it could be early labor. But there was no way she wouldn't go to the hospital and sit on the monitor for a while. There's no shame in being sent home, she said. So, we went.
It turns out that the stomach cramps were most likely early labor - there were no other complications (yay and hooray). But because I was dehydrated, I was having contractions three minutes apart. And the danger of complications after a c-section actually occur in the contracting as much as in delivery, so the doctor on call (whom I liked, by the way) decided I was going to have a New Year's baby after all.
Four hours later, Emmy was here.
The whole thing was ... calm. Joyfully calm. In fact, everything about this baby, all along, could be described as joyfully calm. Her name means "God is with us," and the peace that surrounds such knowledge has also surrounded everything about her life since I first saw those two little pink lines. Though surgery is never pleasant, the hospital stay really was. I loved having so much time with just her, knowing that in a few days we would enter the fray again. Nursing has been ... well, is it sacrilege to say nursing has been easy? Because it has. I know so many things can make nursing difficult, but we haven't had that experience, so far. And Emmy herself is (so far, of course) a calm baby. But maybe this is mostly because she has a calm mother. This morning as Brian (God BLESS Brian for his herculean efforts to keep the train on the track around here) was getting dressed and I sat feeding Emmy - while Asher was puddling on the living room floor and Silas was trying his hardest to reach the lock on the front door to escape into the cold rain - all I could do was laugh. There's chaos, and the occasional weeping and gnashing of teeth, and I still can't quite get off the couch without assistance, and (God help us) eventually Brian is going to have to go back to work and this is all going to be on me ... but all of that is okay. Our baby is finally here, and we will all find our way through it together.
God is with us. And so is Emmanuel.
Thanks be to God.