Friday, July 6, 2007

A Baby Story: Ruth Emma

Baby Ruth the Butterfinger
While technically, Ruth's birthday isn't until Monday, we're going to do what we always do and have her birthday celebration this weekend. Since it's going to be a busy day with lots of family coming, I thought I'd take this opportunity today, and tell Ruth's Baby Story.

When we found out we were expecting her, it was a pretty big shock. Without going into detail, it should have been medically impossible for us to have another baby - but the test results were as clear as they could be. It took a lot of prayer and a lot of "getting used to" the idea of yet another baby in our lives.

Samuel was still a baby himself, and Jordan and Rachel were just 5 and 4, respectively. Our oldest daughter had moved back home to regroup and save a few dollars before trying the "being on my own" again, and we were going through a period of pretty rough times with our second oldest. Jessica, being the middle kid - just did what middle kids usually do and tried to be a little diplomat all over the place, anytime diplomatic efforts might have been needed. All that to say it was a highly stressful time and the news of a new baby coming was huge.

We decided to hold off telling anyone for as long as possible, for no other reason than we didn't want to hear the reaction that we were expecting to hear. We'd already heard plenty of discouraging comments about having so many kids (and that was only at 6!) and we just didn't want to deal with more of the same. Not just yet. The problem is, when I'm carrying, I begin to show almost immediately - it's been that way with all of the kids. At two months I look at least four, and by 6 months complete strangers start asking if there's twins or triplets in there. By 9 months I usually resign myself to the idea that I'm going to have a 40 pound baby, but it never quite worked out that way. Our biggest was Samuel at 9lbs.1 oz.

So while we waited, the older girls had already concluded amongst themselves that I was, and by the time we formally announced it, they laughed and said something along the lines of "mom, tell us something we didn't already know". So much for stealth & secrecy.

Like all her siblings before her, I gained a monumental amount of weight. Unlike all the others before her, I gain the most weight I've ever gained in my life. Before it was all over I was so huge we all joked that I needed a WIDE LOAD logo on the back of all my shirts. It was awfully hard to get around the last couple of months and the hot summer weather certainly didn't help matters. I recall thinking at one point that I knew for sure I had feet, since I could still walk, but it had been ages since I'd actually seen them.

We'd already found out through an ultrasound that she was a girl, and we'd already decided to name her Ruth, after my gma's mother. In all the generations of babies since my great gma, not one girl in the family was named after her, so we thought it was time. We were undecided on a middle name and while I wanted it to be Zora, after my gma, my gma absolutely insisted I NOT name this baby with that name. Kev wasn't big on it either, so we were sorta floundering for a middle name. Eventually I suggested Emma, my gma's younger sister's name. Ruth Emma seemed to just roll off the tongue real easy like, and we all decided that was a good combination.

A few days before she was born, I called my gma. The first thing she asked was "you haven't had that baby YET!?" They kept moving my due date around, and even though I was already 9 months along, there were no signs at all that she was coming any time soon. Gma instructed me:

"You might as well have that baby on the 9th, since that is Mama's birthday. Since you're naming her after Mama, having her on Mama's birthday seems to make sense."
We both laughed about that and I said I'd see what I could do about having the baby on the 9th - maybe I'd attempt some jumping jacks or something. I thought it was pretty cool that my great gma's birthday was so close to Ruth being born, and it was actually news to me, I had no idea when her birthday was.

The morning of the 9th was just like every other morning. I woke up very early (around 5) and felt the same as I always did: like a bloated whale. I waddled downstairs to make coffee, then sat down to read my email & the news while the coffee brewed. I don't remember if I even had a cup before I realized how badly my back hurt, and decided to go take a bath. At some point between heading to the bath and 7:30, I knew today would be the day. Something was different, and I could feel labor coming. By 7:30 I woke up Kev and said "let's go". So, off we went.

Before we even got to the hospital I was in mid labor. Thankfully she didn't ambush me like Rachel did. Hard labor with Rachel began at 11:26 and she was born at 12:56. She gave me no time to properly prepare and just barely enough time to get to the hospital! Ruth was a little different, and allowed us to get there, get me in a wheelchair and wheeled up to the maternity floor. I got all settled into my room and had all the appropriate tubes & monitors hooked up when hard labor did hit.

I wish I could remember exactly what time she was born, but just prior to getting my epidural, the first attempt didn't work. I flinched due to a labor pain and the anesthesiologist nicked a nerve in my spine. The pain that accompanied that is quite literally indescribable. I think the only thing that kept me from passing out was the intensity of the pain, coupled with more hard labor. I went into auto-pilot and the actually delivery was quite surreal for me. I believe it was somewhere around noon, that she finally made her grand entrance.

Whew... now I could sleep! :-) Kev stayed a little while longer then left so I could rest and he could go home and gather up the herd and return with them, to see their brand new sister. He also returned with a Big Bacon Classic from Wendy's, because he loves me THAT much! Oh boy was I hungry too.

It was an absolutely beautiful summer day, and after the nurse took Ruth back to the nursery, Kev and I and the kids spent the late afternoon with the kids in the courtyard of the hospital. Understandably I was pretty wiped out and sitting in a wheelchair the whole time, but it was so nice to be outside with them. Something about that slice of time in my life is so incredibly comforting, it's hard to put it into words.

I had the best treatment by the kindest nurses I'd ever experienced. It was a beautiful hospital, beautiful grounds (complete with ponds & streams), and I recalled thinking that for the very last time I'd be in a maternity ward recovering from childbirth, there couldn't have been a better place to be.

Baby Ruth (who isn't a baby anymore) was indeed born on her namesake's birthday, July 9th, 2003 - over 100 years later, and is the only girl to carry that name on either side of her family.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is exactly the same weather we had the day she was born, a high of 88 degrees. She'll be surrounded by parents, grandparents, a cousin, an aunt, loads of sisters, one brother and her neice Jocelyn - and lots and lots of love. She's no longer the "baby" of the family as her cousin and neice both turn a year old next month and the month after that, but she's my baby and will always be my baby. Even though she's a drama queen and drives me batty half the time. ;-)

Happy Birthday Baby Ruth the Butterfinger!