Shortly after Thanksgiving, 2008, I found out I was pregnant with the baby that would turn out to be, on July 22, 2009, Harrison David. And just two days before Thanksgiving, 2017, I went into labor with the baby that would turn out to be, on November 22, 2017, Wilson Ann. So, you know, for roughly nine years straight, I was pregnant.
OK, that’s an exaggeration, but when you add in nursing, which I did for at least a year for each baby, I really was growing, feeding, or both-ing babies for over 10 years. When I was trying to get pregnant for the second time, I thought I was one of those rare birds that couldn’t get pregnant while nursing a baby, even though they warn you it can happen. We tried for months and months but didn’t actually have success with Baby No. 2, who would turn out to be, on November 4, 2011, Raegan Leigh, until after I quit breastfeeding her big brother.
Imagine my surprise, then, on November 4, 2012, RL’s first birthday – a day I was very much still nursing her – when I took a pregnancy test just because I was feeling “funny” and it said “PREGNANT!” Shocked really doesn’t begin to cover it. I legit thought that couldn’t happen for me, but guess I was wrong. I kept up the dual growing/feeding gig until going in for my first OB appointment when my doctor explained that part of why I felt so miserable (beyond the fact that my first three pregnancies all just made me quite, quite sick) was that my body was taking care of the fetus first, the baby on the boob second, and last of all, me, the actual human of said body. So, I weened Raegan and focused on “just” growing the baby that would turn out to be, on July 4, 2013, Lincoln Thomas.
Did you catch that date overlap? Two babies born on the 4 of the month. One girl, one boy. One in July, one in November. Total accident, total alignment, and exactly 20 months apart in age.
As with Harrison, the trend once again became “can’t get pregnant while nursing” and it wasn’t until after I kicked LT off the boob that I learned Baby No. 4, who would turn out to be, on September 6, 2015, Truman John, was on his way. Ironically he was due on September 4, but like his big sis, he was a stinker and made me wait a couple extra days to meet him. I mean, totally worth it, but going past a due date can be tough. Somehow, though, my pregnancy with Truman was the easiest and the one in which I felt, by far, the most human, so if I had to do it a little bit longer, so be it. I was far less sick than with any of the previous babies (thank goodness since I was chasing those three while growing him); since that helped me see the “other side” that some women experienced, and because we still wanted everyone to have a brother and a sister, we decided to go for one more.
This time, though, I wasn’t willing to give up nursing because Truman didn’t seem ready yet and we took a “if it’s meant to be, it will be” mentality with the trying for No.5. Luckily for us, my body cooperated and eventually I was, once again, with child. However, it wasn’t until I, once again, confirmed the at-home test at the OB office that I was willing to ween TJ off nursing so I could “just” grow one more babe while trying to take care of the other four and my own self.
Unlike the two who came early (HD by 12 days and LT by 6) and the two who came late, Wilson came right on time – on her actual due date. My OB joked in the delivery room that if you have enough babies, you eventually will get one right on the dot, and there’s something to that. Of course you also have to take into consideration that I’m one stubborn mother who labored extra long at home just so she could go in after midnight (putting us there on the due date) to give birth and save an extra day in the hospital. Another irony given that WA had to be flown to Omaha for surgery on Day 2 of life and we spent 22 days in the NICU at Children’s Hospital before we could bring her home to her anxiously awaiting siblings.
So if you can’t tell by their faces, each one unique but clearly connected and related, too, you can look at the numbers and the patterns and see that growing my not-so-little crew was the longest and the bestest project I’ve ever worked on in this life. Of course the project of parenting them will last the rest of my days but those 9 years (or 10+ when you count nursing) were unlike any others.
*Post 42/52 – just 10 to go!