My 4th baby, Charlie weighed TWELVE pounds when he was born. Twelve. I have so many outrageous memories of his pregnancy, and I have often wondered if my experience wasn't more like a twin pregnancy than a singleton, at that size. Here are a few memories:
Being really big at Greta and Mickey's June birthday party. I had a little fancy non-stretchy cotton blouse top from Motherhood Maternity and it was to the full max. Charlie was born November 1st.
Having to lie on my side constantly, while somehow caring for my own three kids and the 2 I was babysitting. Ages 8 7 5 4 and 1.5...
To make this possible, we rearranged our living room so that we had a futon in full open position right next to the fron t window. We had a big old fashioned porch and we put a sandbox on it and a big babygate in front of the opening to the steps with bungee cords. I would lie on the futon and watch Casey and talk to thim through the window. When we saw the mailman I would shout "just a minute! just a minute!" and one of the kids would run out and have the mailman hand our mail over the babygate to them.
The side-lying was about the Pubis Synphasis Disorder that came from carrying such a big child after vaginally delivering an eleven pound child less than 2 years before. My pregnancy with Charlie was the worst case of this I had, despite the fact that it usually gets worse with each pregnancy. I could not sit up on my bones. It would be like jumping on a broken ankle. You just can't do it. When you're pregnant you can't lie on your front, and you can't lie on your back, and I couldn't sit, so....I could stand and lie on my side!
The first twinges of wondering if this was a very big baby came when we went out to eat for my birthday April 3rd and we had to leave the restaurant because I couldn't get comfortable enough in the basic restaurant wooden chair to even eat my meal. April third. Born in November. *sigh*
I had only experienced getting pregnant in the fall and having a baby in the summer. So getting pregnant at the beginning of the year was really significantly different. It was dark and bleak and cold out. I would gag everytime cold air got in my mouth and our winter plans were immediately cancelled due to Mommy is barfing or asleep. We never went back to a homeschool co-op we went to one time, and we never sledded or skated or did anything. I remember February as Girl Scout Cookie Time for Greta's troop and driving around as a family one Saturday delivering all the cookies, and pulling over to throw up in the blackened road side snow, exhaust going into my face, the descriptions on the cookie boxes in the backseat mocking me with their descriptions, each word more gross and woozy than the next--minty! buttery! rich! peanuty! ohhhhhh so so gross.
I remember an inordinate amount of energy going into us not telling anyone I was expecting, and how negative that experience was.
This was my first experience with (I'm so sorry baby Charlie! We of course couldn't imagine life with out you now!) not being overjoyed at finding out I was pregnant. This was also my first time not "peeing on the stick" with Steve right there outside the bathroom door. I did it in private on a Sunday evening when spaghetti dinner smelled yucky (again) and my boobs were sting-y and my newly upstarting period hadn't been around for a while. It went positive and I got covered in chills and I smiled and I had tears in my eyes and I came and politely ate a little spaghetti. For the baby. The Baby??? Oh good Lordie. We already have a baby, and a little one at that--Casey was 17 months old and nursing 'round the clock.
I didn't tell Steve until Thursday. It was a very strange and new experience keeping this secret from him. I am not good at keeping silent, as I am not the stew and brew and contemplate type. I did it for many reasons, some of which are still unknown to me. But I could feel that this not telling him was somehow a big deal. I tried to experience holding the secret as an intimate exercise in personal growth and empowerment. I tried to think of holding a little egg-ball thing somewhere deep in my belly and visualizing my secret as something peach and fuzzy and watery and minuscule and enormous and full of potential and nothingness as well. Exhaustion and nausea and winter's darkness made that a truly psychedelic week of primordial ooze and otherworldly wonder and worry.
It got to the point where I was so all encompassed with my secret that I couldn't really believe people, my husband at least, couldn't tell. Empowerment and quiet knowing took only a handful of days to turn into resentment (at nighttime nursing, at stinky foods, at changing not only my own toddler but the babysat toddler's diapers, at any and all suggestions that I do anything that took any effort whatsoever...) By the evening of the fifth day I had to come out with it. I had been teary-eyed and completely weird all week. I was very weird in how I told Steve. It was basically a really shameful female head trippy sideways passive aggressive bit that involved me smiling all freaky and asking him how could he just act like he doesnt know and...it was really uncool. I wasn't able to see at that point whatsoever that a lot of this was about me fearing he would not think this was good news. Or to be very hind-sight is 20/20, me putting all of my own trepidation and guilt onto him somehow. Because I was not "excited". I was already to the throws of morning sickness (all day) by then and there just isn't anything to do but hang on for the horrible boat ride. I was *this* close to thinking tiny, tiny, teeny little thoughts about miscarriage. Not abortion. Just....a kind of quick terrible little thought when I went to the bathroom and peeked for blood on the undies (like I assume every single woman does every single time she pees, there they are, right between your knees, you look, right?) and I just had this fleeting thought about how I have been almost too lucky in never having had a miscarriage and how maybe I might, and how if I did, we would not even consider pregnancy for like 2 years and...just little stuff like that. Normal terrible secret little stuff. But no blood, not one speck. A baby is surely coming. As sure as tomorrow being as nauseating as today. As sure as knowing you will "have the flu until summer" is in February. Heavy stuff.
Being pregnant while mothering an EXTREMELY INDESCRIBABLY hyper 18 month old was just horrid. I could see that there would be no cuddly loaf-y afternoons of Blue's Clues and hummus, no cozy coloring books while Mama semi-dozed, no mother and baby swim class with Panera afterwards. I was the proud owner of a full time daycare and the mother of a real live monkey--and this was scary.
The pregnancy mosie-d along, and it was a long year. We eventually told everyone, and --eh--the reactions were about par for the course. A lot of the relatives who literally pretended I did not just have a homebirth a year and a half ago were now stumbling over themselves with the "Whos yer doctor--or--whatever--" kinds of stuff. No one saw my homebirth with Casey as a success story, as a triumphant VBAC, or as anything fit for discussion, really. So there I was with my big belly and truly feeling ignored, left out of even the most basic polite conversations. No what do you think your having, nothing. I think they were so scared I was going to talk about Homebirth that they just couldn't deal with me as human.
(I didn't start blogging until Charlie was 12 weeks old. I was very closeted as a birth-junkie, and nobody besides a few few people knew how passionate I was about homebirth, midwifery, or what my homebirth of Casey meant to me. My fault, nobody's fault, just how I did stuff back then.)
I remember taking oodles of baths later in the pregnancy. Sometimes 3 a day. We got a pool in the summer and I liked it but it wasn't super deep and so I would sit in it and Casey would jump on my belly and it kind of was awkward. But after my tepid baths or my times in the pool, there would be a nice hour or so when my feet weren't swollen and my legs weren't swollen and my Braxton-Hicks stopped.
Oh man speaking of Braxton-Hicks...I was EIGHT WEEKS pregnant and I decided I had to take my own kids and the babysitting kids to Home Depot to buy a big rug for the front porch. it was the first springish weather and I wanted to get these kids out on the porch for some freshness. So there I was, pushing the cart through Home Depot and I had that bladder-cramping, pulling hard feeling because I was briskly walking. Are you kidding me? Braxton Hicks? I stopped walking, drank some water, and it stopped. As soon as I started walking again it started up. Eight weeks pregnant. I feared twins.
By July, I was a huge, huge, when are you having that baby, lady? huge. We went to music in the park with my sister and her son, and I stayed at the blanket when the kids all went down to the dancing part. I couldn't walk that far and be expected to make it back to the car later! July. For all I know Charlie did weigh 6 or 7 pounds by then, I really looked and felt 9 months pregnant. July.
Charlie's due date came and went, and his October 20th due date blurred into a Halloween labor and an All Saint's Day birth of the second biggest baby that particular doctor ever delivered.
So that was a bit of what it was like to have a twelve pound baby so soon after an eleven pound baby. I promised you all I'd write about his birth and I will. Someday.