It is lovely out tonight- a cool breeze, but still the warmth of the setting sun to run and play games by. As I look across the backyard of our beautiful home, I see a myriad of summer stories I can tell.
Looking eastward, I see our treeline, a popular place for our children to play. This evening they were pounding at the bare earth floor, creating quite the dust storm and likely earning a midweek bath. “We were playing ‘Dirt People’,” Anna says.
My eyes move to the crabapple trees, whose blooms have been a subject of Aliyah’s beautiful photography. They haven’t borne much fruit this year, nor have the berry brambles, possibly due to the harsh winter we had.
I glance at a pile of corn husks thrown into the weeds- a dear couple at church are having some health issues and graciously gave us five or more dozen ears last weekend. I had such excellent help shucking that I was able to get 80 percent of it done and put in the freezer, all while Luke was gone on a bike ride.
I see Kenan next. He is such a mama’s boy- every time I would try this evening to walk a trail, he howled after me lest I stop and “way up” for him to come along, holding my hand. What a blessing to have such a clingy child. I know someday I might not have a hand to hold when I want to take a walk.
Caleb is spied running into the back trail. Its entrance is canopied by these thorn trees that are growing up quickly. I remember my brother coming home from school one year with a tree like these planted in a styrofoam cup. My dad put it in our backyard; it grew to be quite tall. Though the tree was supposed to produce them, I don’t think it ever had thorns. These here definitely have thorns. But I appreciate how speedily they have grown.
The little girls can now be seen in the center of the backyard, with all their favorite blankets and pillows spread out on the grass. They are careful to stay out of Bella’s (wireless fence) territory, not wishing this unwanted, hairy guest on their bedding. Adon has run to join them, shouting, “Me have my banky, too!” Soon I’ll have to start coaching him to say “I” instead of “Me”, but for now I find it cute. I do some quick math- he is only nearly two months into his third year. It was not long ago that he was two, and he really talks quite well for as young as he still is.
My eyes pan the garden. As every summer, we had grandiose plans for what we would grow there. Even with my advanced pregnancy, we were checking things off our list of goals. Spray weeds? Check. Till? Check. Lay down landscaping cloth? Check. Plant tomatoes? Check. This is when our plans went awry. A rabbit got to every tomato plant. Okay, no problem. Luke plants more tomatoes, and steps up his rabbit hunting. The second plantings virtually disappeared- this critter even dug out the roots and ate them! Luke planted a third set of tomato plants, and these survived because he shot the plant eater. The tomatoes will be late, but they will be good. Sam planted some watermelon. There are quite a few growing, but none of them have gotten very big. His hope is to enter one in the Bellville Street Fair. Aliyah has had a long and illustrious winning streak at the fair with sunflowers and photographs, and Sam wants in. Aliyah’s sunflowers are growing well, and are a gorgeous orange this year, but they are the really tall ones, with lots of blooms on one stalk. We’ll have to see if any of them are ones she can enter. She is narrowing down the photos she wants to enter, from the hundreds she took this year before her camera broke in June. By Christmas, she ought to be in a position to buy a new one. She has really missed it, and, I hope, learned her lesson about keeping it around her neck!
As I continue westward, the sun sets into pink, orange and gold. This is nothing compared to last night, when after a thunderstorm the entire sky was pink at sunset! We were watching the last hour of Sound of Music when the living room came alive with rosy color. I love our position on the hill that allows us beautiful views of the setting sun. It gives me a sad feeling to see it go, sometimes, when I think about another day gone, that I cannot get back. The time flies by, and I cannot do anything to slow it. Maybe that will be one of the highlights of Heaven- the moment will never be over!

A Vacation From Labor, Part Two

So we get up the next morning, me again glad I did not start labor in the night. [Incidentally, we scheduled an induction for Micah and Micaiah and I started labor the night before it. That time I was glad to have that happen.] I wasn’t going to eat, but Luke said I should, so I made my customary fried eggs and sat down to eat them. I had butterflies, big ones, in my stomach, making it difficult to swallow my breakfast. When had I last been this nervous, this afraid? Oh, yeah- it was when I had (yet again) let my drivers’ license expire and this time it was so long I had to take my drivers’ test over again, including maneuverability. That morning was horrible- I could not wait for the test to be over. So much was riding on me passing; I already had a plane trip booked to North Carolina! (That was how we discovered the expired license.) (When Luke called to rent me a car.) I did end up passing, even at 6 months pregnant and in a minivan.
Here I am, as scared as I ever remember being, and it is my 11th child!!! Incidentally, I just saw a dvd at the library called Pregnancy For Dummies: yep, they have one for that, too! Maybe I should have checked it out. I don’t know why I was so unstable, I just knew I was. Once at the hospital I got settled into my gown and onto the bed and ready for intravenous fluids. I have to say, the IV is one of the worst parts of the whole thing. But, there isn’t really an alternative. They started pitocin at 7:30, and things progressed at a reasonable pace. By lunchtime I was dilated at about halfway, and called for an epidural. No, I wasn’t really in all that bad of pain, but like I have said, I was not stable, and I felt like if the pain got worse and my mind was not in a good place, that was going to be tough. So I ordered the meds.
Once the epidural was taking effect, it was like going to sleep in a really warm, tight blanket. Heaven! I commented to the nurse how relaxed I felt, and she said it feels even more so because the person didn’t realize how stressed they actually were before. I was enjoying this immensely- like taking a vacation from labor. My other two epidurals did not deliver this level of objectivity; it was as if I was apart from my body and nothing it was doing could hurt me. I barely felt any pressure, though, something that would matter in a few hours.
I made it the rest of the way to being ready for delivery with no pain. TheĀ  nurse came in and began to prepare the towels, the baby table, and the instruments. It was only like 3 or so in the afternoon. She then encourages me to try pushing, and I do, but because I can’t feel anything this is a little hard to do. I attempt this for a few contractions, then Luke wisely instructs me to stop. He feared that I would exhaust myself too much, and I likely would have. So, my little vacation was one taken too far away from reality, and I asked for the epidural to be turned down, and, eventually, the pitocin to be turned back up, as contractions were getting weak. Finally, at 4:30, I am able to feel something, and can push. Elijah Liberty was born very quickly, with only a couple of pushes. We were worried about him being big, like Sam, but he was only 9 lb. 1 oz. after being 2 weeks late! Many things were different about this labor and delivery, but I think the biggest factor was that he was so high up, not putting much pressure on so my body would be moved to send him on his way. In the end, I think it was a good choice to induce. I’m still wondering about the epidural though- he may have been born hours sooner if I hadn’t had that. But the biggest concern I have is with my mind- why could I not achieve a peace, or even any courage, when it came time to have him? What was I so scared of? I don’t think I thought I would die. I still ponder this with no answers.
Eleven is here, and growing like a weed. People are already saying that we can’t stop short of a dozen. If I can’t (mentally) handle delivering the 11th, what about the 12th? Ahh, but I will not borrow tomorrow’s trouble. I cannot handle that, but I can go feed my sweet, soft boy and make today count.