Catholics Love A Good Birth Story

You know who loves a good birth story?

Catholics do.

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.

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Cari Donaldson


Cari Donaldson lives on a New England farm with her high school sweetheart, their six kids, and a menagerie of animals of varying usefulness. She is the author of Pope Awesome and Other Stories, and has a weekly podcast about homesteading at

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  • grace822

    curse you.

    I’ve never cried reading the internet — until now.

    fist shake. 

  • I’m totally bawling, Donaldson.  Love you and love, love, love sweet little Bananica!

  • Francine

    What a beautiful story- it was worth waiting for!

  • JoAnna Wahlund

    I’m Rh- with an Rh+ husband (and 4 Rh+ kids, so far) and I’ve never heard of the Coombs test. Huh.

    Lovely story! I’m so glad you felt lifted up in prayer!

  • Lisa G.

    Wow Cari – love this story.  I had no idea there were so many scares but I am so glad everything is perfect 🙂  Congratulations again!!!!

  • Well, this was just wonderful. Funny and touching all at once. And if 6 kids in 10 years is pope-worthy then what is 6 kids in 8 years. 😉 Thanks for sharing yours and Veronica’s story. She is beautiful.

  • The crazy thing is, both she and I are positive.  I’m O+, she’s B+.  It wasn’t a factor of Rh incompatibility, but the fact that O blood contains both A and B antigens (?), and so she was reacting to the A antigen found in my O blood.

    I don’t know.  It’s all verrrrry mysterious and fascinating.

  • Super Pope (complete with cape!)- worthy!  The only higher level is Apostle-worthy.

  • steph

    love. you. her. the story. the outcome your faith and our prayers provided! well done mama! 

  • karlab71

    So….Apostle-worthy must be……6 kids in 5 years or less? Hee hee

  • Laura

    antibodies, not antigens 🙂 Beautiful story, congratulations on your GIRL!

  • *sigh* Again, you aren’t supposed to make me cry at work.  The few days before my C-sxn with Zach, I had the “day before delivery” fears of dying or impending doom (which were also made fun of, by the way).  I am so glad you felt the love and power of all the prayers and support for you and Veronica.  Very moving story, so glad you share your life with all of us out here in the never-never-land of the internet.  And I am so very proud of you and happy for you, my dear pseudo-cousin.  😉

  • Colleen martin

    Amazing and beautiful…just like her (and you!). You have given me hope that there may be one more girl in our future 🙂

  • chaco

    Feeling somewhat out of place as a male commenting on your story, I am humbled by all the responsibility a feminine Heart takes on (especially at a time such as this). I’ve come to believe that men may, for the most part, be more physically powerful, but I see women winning “Hands Down” in regards to emotional/ Spiritual fortitude. [ I’ve heard that studies reveal how women can endure the strain of divorce better than men. I’ve also heard that at the moment when gender is decided in the womb; something that connects right brain to left brain is destroyed if it becomes a male (now don’t go using this to claim men are brain damaged). This would explain why women seem to be more adept at multi-tasking.] Don’t get me wrong; men are God’s creation as well – and God don’t make junk – I just like to highlight our complimentarity.  Your words on how technology can connect us all gives me much Hope as regards teachings about “A New Springtime”. SOoo happy for you & Hubby & clan. 

  • chaco

    All that said, it has been opined ; “Of course God made man 1st – one always makes a rough draft before the final masterpiece.

  • Ana Hahn

    Totally tearing up, such a  beautiful story, Cari and an even more beautiful baby!
    I was so glad to read that I am not the only one who has been a “hot mess” prior to delivery (although both times so far for me, patheticville) I hope I can summon some faith similar to yours this time around and not freak out 🙂

  • Nicole

    Congratulations! What a beautiful blessing for a beautiful family! I had a similar experience with a coombs positive baby. Very scary! We had to stay in the hospital for an extra day but our littlest one is fine too. Enjoy that sweet new baby smell and wrap yourself up in a baby cocoon!!!!

  • kim trouy

    She is beautiful!  You are so blessed!  Remind me to tell you that again in a few years when it gets really hard!  love you girl!