You all know that I'm not good at making a long story short. I'm great at making a short story long, though. So rather than dive into an inevitably lengthy narrative about Kaleb's blessed and timely arrival, I will stick with a timeline.
July 20: OB appt, baby still breech, schedule External Version for Monday
July 20-25: Pray that baby will turn on his own, perform many awkward poses and stretches to encourage baby to flip to head down position
July 25: Drop all five kids off at the Bishop's house to play with his good family all day, report at hospital in Great Falls with Aaron for the version procedure, discover that the baby is still breech, wait a lot, then endure an intense but brief procedure involving the doctor and nurse pushing really hard on the poor baby, SUCCESS! Like a spring, he feels like he's about to flip right back into the breech position, so Doctor and nurse instruct me to wear a maternity support belt in restrictive fashion atop my uterus to squeeze him in and to stand up and walk for the next three hours, no sitting for the hour drive back to Choteau until 3 hours of gravity and walking help him engage in the head down position. We comply.
August 2: bring the girls to OB appt while Aaron keeps the boys for some guy fun, baby still head down but not fully engaged so keep doing what you're doing (wearing that squeezy band day and night, walking, and praying lots), barely dilated to just over 1 cm
August 9 @ 10am: drop off all 5 kids at my kind visiting teacher's house since Mirien's travel plans were slightly delayed and she was still en route, drive with Aaron to Great Falls for OB appt
11am: appt delayed 3 hours due to my doctor having had her baby the day before and her Midwife fill-in attending a delivery right then
2pm: return to clinic for appt, baby still head down and fully engaged (woohoo, freedom from uncomfortably squeezy band!), membranes stripped, dilated to nearly 3 cm, so we walk around and I eat Jalapenos to see if we can get things going while we're there in Great Falls,
4pm: Walking around Sam's club, contractions are just frequent and noticeable enough to make me wonder if it'll turn into the real thing, but not progressing enough to convince me, so we head back to Choteau
5pm: pick up kids, Xander makes tacos, we tidy up and make beds for our guests
6:45 pm: Mirien and Jillian arrive! Taco Tuesday, get guests settled, enjoy their company, Jillian tucks Hazel & Max in bed, try unsuccessfully to figure our how to watch Olympics via streaming, mild contractions continue
11:23 pm: Go to bed wondering if I'll be able to sleep through these contractions or if they'll progress into active labor
August 10 @ 12:23am: contractions have been consistently every 5 minutes for the last hour, and I haven't been able to sleep through them. Is it because they are more intense or just because my mind can't stop wondering if this means we should head to the hospital soon so we don't cut it too close with a long drive? I get up and print out the shipping label for my first eBay sale ever, package up the Ooma device, and get it all ready to ship, just in case, so I can assure shipping within the required 2 days. Find Hazel's card for Great Grandma Lowe and finally put a stamp on that, too. When distracted, I don't notice and time every contraction, meaning they are pretty mild.
12:50 am: Back to Bed
1:50 am: Contractions have been consistently every 5 minutes for the last hour, and I still haven't been able to sleep through them. I feel like we need to head to the hospital, though I hate to wake Aaron up because the contractions are still so mild. But if I was dilated to a 3 in the early afternoon, and I've been having regular contractions, by the time I get to the hospital in an hour I figure I'll probably be dilated to a 5, so I decide it's a go. I don't want a miserable hour-long drive. I wake Aaron up anyway and tell him it's time. With barely more than a word, he gets our things into the car. I wake Mirien up to tell her we're leaving.
2:02 am: We drive off for the hospital. Contractions are now every 4 minutes, but not uncomfortable. Aaron is exhausted and just drives. I breathe and relax comfortably. The trip feels calm and easy.
3:04 am: We arrive at the hospital. My contractions still feel mild enough that I opt to park the car with Aaron and walk up to the door. I comment that it feels weird to be at the hospital when I'm at such an early, easy stage of labor.
3:27 am: After the initial registration stuff, the nurse checks me declares that I'm dilated to a 3. So disappointed!! I feel like I shouldn't have woken Aaron up for this. He reassures me that I did the right thing. Since we came all the way from Choteau, the burse and midwife come up with a plan: monitor for 30, walk for 60, monitor for 30, check again. If progressed, admit. If not, send home. I can hardly describe how disappointed and deflated I felt. I mustered my courage and faith and prayed for help in moving past the negative woulda-coulda-shoulda thoughts. I feel reassured that it will all work out and I trust.
3:47 am: The monitor shows I'm having contractions every 2-3 minutes, so the nurse has me get up to walk the hall of the Labor and delivery unit. We walk around and around and around the loop, pausing to breathe and squat and maximize every contraction. I finally convince my poor husband that he doesn't need to wear himself out by walking with me--I'll need his strength later! He goes to rest on the chair in the triage room. I keep walking, thinking about how I had been hoping that once I was in the security of the hospital, I would actually be able to relax enough to catch a little bit of sleep. Nope, I'm walking and walking and so so tired after not a minute of sleep all night. The hallway is about 2 minutes long at my pace, and I stop at nearly the same place each loop to breathe and maximize each contraction while praying very fervently for the Lord to bless my labor to progress so I won't have to go home and wonder more and more about when to come back. I feel the contractions increasing in intensity and feel so grateful.
5ish am: the triage nurse finishes with another laboring mom who came in and brings me back to the monitor from the halls.
5:15ish am: The tocometer shows that my contractions have increased in intensity and are about 2 minutes apart, so she checks me. I'm dilated to a 5-6! Hooray! Prayers answered! Admitted to a L&D room.
6ish am: The Midwife arrives and checks me. I'm dilated to an 8. She offers to break my bulging bag of waters. For some reason, in my exhausted state of mind, I was still enjoying the breaks between contractions too much and didn't feel ready to leap ahead to the increased intensity that I feel after my water is broken. I figure I can break it on my own when I push after being fully dilated. Aaron continues being the amazing, wonderful, encouraging support that he is during intensifying labor. I love that man!
6:20ish am: Contractions have gotten much more intense and I'm wishing I had let the midwife break my water. We call for the nurse and ask for the midwife to come back. She's stepped away, downstairs eating breakfast. Too bad for me, but she did look completely exhausted when I saw her, she definitely needed some fuel. Nurse checks me, dilated to 8-9. I try to push during a contraction, though I don't have the urge, just to see if I can break that water and get things moving. Doesn't work. I'm so tired and it feels like it's taking so long. I start begging for Aaron to do something to help me find a comfortable position because nothing is remotely comfortable during contractions!
7:05ish am: Midwife returns, checks me, I'm nearly complete. She breaks my water. Very soon I feel the urge to push and push very exuberantly, remembering the feeling of relief on the other side and craving it. In the intensity, I remember Meredith calling it the ring of fire, I push like I mean it!
7:18 am: Baby boy is born and I feel an amazing flood of awe, relief, disbelief, gratitude, joy, wonder, love, and concern. His complexion is a bit dusky and his face is rather bruised from his rapid descent. Sorry, little guy.
7:30ish am: The baby nurse takes him over to the warmer to suction him some more and give him some blow-by Oxygen to get him to pink up. His initial Apgar scores are a bit low, but he responds well to the nurses efforts and scores fine after about 30 minutes. While they're taking care of our sweet, miraculous baby boy, I rest and realize that while my exhaustion made it feel like it was taking a long time, it was actually only about 4 hours since we got to the hospital and I was only dilated to a 3. Amazing. Intense gratitude. 7:48 am: Weighed in at 8lbs 9oz, 22inches long--also thankful that he didn't follow the previous pattern of each successive child being larger than the previous one. Oliver was 9lbs 4 oz!
6ish pm: Over our celebration dinner in the hospital, complete with Sparkling cider, Aaron and I finally decided on a name for the little sweetie: Kaleb Daniel Dahle.
Then we just enjoyed the baby honeymoon in the hospital and tried to recover from the sleepless night, relishing the feelings of gratitude and wonder as we cuddled our sweet little Kaleb. How wonderful that I was able to travel to the hospital in the comfortable condition of early labor and still hold my baby in my arms just over 4 hours later! Such a tender mercy from the Lord in the timing of it all! He answered the prayer I've been offering ever since we decided to move to Choteau, with the OB care an hour away, that I would know that it was time to go to the hospital in time to get there comfortably. It just amazes me how fully he answered my specific prayer. I knew it was time to go.
Mirien had just arrived 7 hours before, so I could leave with the reassurance that my 5 kids were well-taken care of at home. She could only stay for just under a week, so this timing maximized her ability to help when we need it. My mom had wanted to come help, but the baby was due the week they needed to report for their mission, so she had delegated helping to Mirien. With her busy family, she also didn't have huge flexibility in the timing of her visit, so the Lord blessed her for her willingness and me for my parent's willingness to answer the call of a mission and made the timing just perfect.
Further, I was blessed to have the sweet baby stay head down for optimal delivery and recovery. I did not have to have a C-section and the more difficult recovery, so it was fine that Mirien could just stay for a couple days after we got home from the hospital, because my recovery has been so easy.
And of course a huge highlight was seeing the siblings' joy and excitement upon meeting their little brother!
When we got married, Aaron and I discussed that we wanted 7 kids. We figured it would be great to have 7 kids in 10 years. According to the Lord's will and timing, of course. Our 7th was just born and Xander is 11, so pretty close. 7 kids eternally, 6 to raise. Wow. Amazing that we're to this point. We will just see what the Lord has in store for our family in the years to come.