You know who loves a good birth story?
We’re kind of obsessed with them, if you think about it, or at least, obsessed with one in particular. We retell it in pageant form, in song form, in picture form- shoot, we’ve even had it written under Divine Inspiration and included it in the Bible.
Yup yup yup- Catholics love them a good birth story.
So when I was trying to figure out how/when/what I was going to write about for my first post in six million years for Catholic Exchange, it struck me like a bolt from the sky- I’d just tell my newest birth story. After all, if birth stories are as Catholic as incense and missalettes, then the story of the birth of a sixth child in ten years would reach Pope-levels of Catholicity. Or at least Cardinal-levels. So with no further ado, I present for your reading pleasure Donaldson Baby Number Six’s birth story.
The due date came and went.
My parents made the 14 hour trip from Tennessee to Connecticut to come help with a baby who, despite such drastic measures as a 4 mile hike up and back down a mountain and ingestion of copious amounts of Indian food, refused to show up. I agreed to have my membranes stripped, which the doctor couldn’t even do since the baby was still so high up in my abdominal cavity. A week passed. My parents left. I wept and fasted, wept and prayed. Still no baby.
An induction was scheduled for Monday, May 7th, precisely 28 hours after my parents left for home, so my now-honorary Southern neighbor and her mother agreed to watch the kids for us so Ken could be there for the procedure.
The day before the induction, I was what the kids like to call “a hot mess“. I was convinced I was going to die in childbirth. I was convinced the baby was going to have some birth defect that would result in unbearable, insurmountable stress put upon the family. I spent most of Sunday on the edge of tears, watching my children with uncomfortable intensity, trying to burn the images of what was surely our last moments together in my mind forever. I made a Sunday dinner that verged on gluttonous, convinced this was the last time I would ever cook for my people. I begged God to spare me. I begged anyone who had the misfortune of asking me how I was doing for Rosaries, novenas, Holy hours, whatever.
See? Hot Mess.
Finally, I asked God to do one of two things for me- if all this hysteria was the result of a spiritual attack, to shelter me from it, since I was clearly not ready to face a challenge of this magnitude. If it wasn’t a spiritual attack, if this was a forewarning of things to come, then I begged for the grace to face it with internal peace and joy.
Then I told Ken about my worries, got soundly teased for them, and managed to fall asleep.
God, I love that man.
I woke up before my alarm Monday morning, took a shower, spent some time trying to figure out how much makeup would cross that line between “well groomed” and “wildly inappropriate for impending labor and child birth”
(end decision: foundation, blush, eyeliner. No eyeshadow, mascara, or lipstick. Hair blown dried, but not curled. When I’m nervous, I like to overthink things).
My neighbor’s mother came and I went over what is probably the only schedule my children have ever been on. I’m not kidding. Their day was scripted out in half-hour segments, menus for each meal included, ingredients laid out on the kitchen island, the whole nine yards. I was exhausted just looking at it.
I hugged them all goodbye and assured them that this time the doctor’s appointment would result in a new sibling. Joaquin, Gabriel, and John-Luke were fine with me leaving, so weary were they of doctor’s appointments that didn’t produce a baby. Lotus and Jude howled. I have a gold locket that my grandfather gave me when I was two, and ever since Joaquin’s birth, I’ve let Lotus wear the locket the whole time I’m in the hospital for a new baby. This mollified her somewhat, but Jude was inconsolable. I left him crying in front of the TV while I got in the car, feeling guilty and morose and irritated with the whole stupid birthing process.