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Introducing Norah James | Birth Story & family of 9!
Hi friends! I’m back to the blog and it feels nice.
I unintentionally took a break from posting here in the last few (uuh, several) months. I’ll just chalk that up to 7 kids and those glorious sleepless nights.
I wanted to enter back into the blog by updating you on the biggest thing that happened in the last year and that is our SIXTH girl (7th baby), Norah James who entered our world and made things even sweeter than I ever thought possible.
She was born last April just 5 days after my birthday. I love that we share a birthday week and that she’ll grow up with us having that special memory together. Along with that, a memory I’ll never forget is how she actually entered the world and even today, almost 10 months later I’m still wrapping my head around the whole story. It’s a whirlwind, friends, so here’s a little update on her birth and motherhood lately.
Grab a warm cozy drink, this is gonna be a long one...but a good one, I promise!
I’m starting to feel a bit like myself again, coming out of the newborn fog and not feeling *as* tired as those first few weeks. These last few months have felt a bit slower but also somehow the fastest they’ve ever been at the same time. Slower in the creating art and running my business side of life, but just as fast in the kid-raising/momming part of things. And that’s kind of how motherhood goes though doesn't it!? Seasons ebb and flow and change without even knowing it until you’re out of one season and into the next. I kind of hate how that happens too because just as I was trying to hold on to those precious newborn moments with Norah being welcomed into our home, I blink and I’m trying to hold her down from rolling off the couch already!
Sheesh, Time you never let us mamas get to hold on long enough before the next precious moments with our little ones start filling our days. It’s a love/hate relationship with time and raising kids, though isn't it? And I guess the only thing I can really know and hold onto is that it will always be this way, so with each new day I hope to have at least one moment in it that is intentional, focused on what really matters and that it gave us a memory together that will live long into our years ahead.
This ever fleeting feeling of motherhood is really what led me to create this collection I titled Mother's Love. I created it as a way to capture those moments of motherhood that feel mundane, but may be the most sacred ones of all. If you haven't seen this collection, you can click here to take a look. It has a deeply special place in my heart and I created it in hopes it would create something meaningful and special for another mama out there too.
The morning of…
Speaking of time, I can’t really comprehend how Norah is already 9 months old now. (Heck, I can’t comprehend how my oldest is 9 years!!!) And since I can’t hold down the fleeting moments, I’m going to write them down here so they’ll always be remembered and kept close. Her birth story is one I can easily say I will never forget. One unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. One I never thought could actually happen until, well, it did.
Given that she was my 6th pregnancy (7th baby–we have twins in the mix so you can do that math on that), I got every cliche comment that comes with having a lot of kids. One of the most was that this baby would come fast once I went into labor. I can’t tell you how many times I was told over and over again with each new pregnancy that this baby would come fast all for it not to happen, making the waiting game even longer. So with Norah, I didn’t want to get my hopes up that anything would happen sooner so I tried to give myself more realistic expectations of when he or she would come. (we didn’t know her gender until she was born, btw).
Her due date came and I was so ready to not be pregnant anymore. I’m so thankful to have pretty easy pregnancies, but any mama knows that once you get to the point of not being able to see your toes or bend over to put on your own shoes, you’re in the home stretch and those last few weeks are pretty much the worst.
Her due date was April 28th, but I kept telling myself (given my history with births) that she’d most likely be coming in May. The week of her due date came and I was starting to feel some slight contractions here and there, which was normal for me and nothing I thought would send me into labor anytime soon. On the morning of her due date after our oldest kids headed to school, I was hanging out with Dash and Penny in the backyard while Shane was doing some work on our skoolie. (another story for another day, but if you have no idea about our skoolie, here’s a snippet of that story here).
While he and some guys worked on the bus I kept having milk contractions here and there and the rest of the day pretty much went like this.
It was no big deal…
Once lunchtime came around I had hit my wall of exhaustion (as I normally did in the middle of the day) and had to go lay down for a nap. I slept a couple hours before waking up to more contractions. Now I was starting to wonder if I’d go into the hospital that night or sometime the next day. The way things had gone with my other births was that contractions would happen pretty slow and steady until my babies would come in the middle of the night. So I figured this one would be the same, if not very similar.
The girls came home from school and my sis-in-law offered to have them come hangout with her for a bit to give me some more rest. It was about 4 in the afternoon now and I was pretty sure at this point we would go into the hospital sometime after dinner, but still not feeling much of any “real” contractions yet. Meanwhile, Shane decided he wanted to grill and make a nice steak dinner for us before heading to the hospital (my husband's a keeper :)). He started making dinner while I had the kids get ready to head to their aunt and uncle’s house.
Before Shane took the kids over there I had them all gather up on the couch to do a little video of us together saying our predictions of whether we thought the baby would be a boy or a girl. (we’ve always been surprised with each of our kids to find out their gender at birth). The time on the video said 4:38pm.
After the video Shane got the kids out of the house and I decided to pack a bag "just in case". A few more contractions here and there, but felt like it was no big deal. Shane made it back home to finish up dinner and after seeing me leaning over on the bed breathing through another contraction, he asked if we should get going. I said I wanted to eat the dinner he made and then we could head out.
Another part of all of this was that this time I decided I wanted to get an epidural, I had never had one with my previous births and I wanted to just give it a go and relax this time. I knew I needed to get to the hospital with a good amount of time before the baby would come to get it, but again these contractions weren’t feeling like anything urgent just yet.
Shane was sweet and took the time to make our dinner plates all nice and I was excited to eat. I came to the table, one more contraction before sitting down, he looked at me like “uh i think we need to go.” I took one bite of the steak and a picture of us eating together at 5:16pm (that you can see below). After that I decided ya, we should probably head over now. So one bit into our fancy steak dinner, we left it all on the table, grabbed our things and headed to the hospital. I started texting friends and family letting them know we were on our way, asked them to pray and that the baby would probably be coming later in the night.
We didn’t see this coming…
A few more contractions came and went throughout our 13 minute drive to the hospital and I was starting to breathe slower through them. Shane says he knew at this point that the baby was coming sooner than I kept telling myself. I remember sitting at a light and the second it turned green I yelled, “go go go”. We were a few minutes away now and it felt like all of the sudden the contractions were coming on quicker and stronger. I kept saying I wanted the epidural now and to hurry. He knew now that we needed to pick things up. We pulled up the hospital front doors at 5:48 pm and he parked as we got inside as fast as we could. Shane left the car behind to get me to the room so I could get that epidural asap like I kept asking for. I stopped twice before making it to the elevator to breathe and cry through the contractions now. The elevator felt like a good place to lay down and give birth at this point. We made it to triage where my midwife was waiting for me. I had a contraction walking down the hall and she made her way to me, knowing I was pretty close. In my head, I kept thinking this is just the beginning of a few more hours I’ll have to go through so I said again I just want the epidural now.
A few more minutes went by as they got me checked in and I had to sign all the dumb paper they make you sign while you’re birthing a baby (like whyyyy!!??), it felt like forever to finally get into the hospital room. I kept asking if I could get the epidural in and for them to hurry up. We made it to the room a few minutes after 6 pm after another contraction on the wheelchair in the hall and again when I stood up to get on the bed. They FINALLY brought in the epidural thingy to get it started and I felt like they were taking their sweet slow time unaware that there was even a pregnant lady yelling at them to get the needle in already!
I sat on the edge of the bed with the help of Shane and 3 others to help me get up, the epidural needle went in and the next minute another huge contraction came rushing through and I had to lay down. I decided it was best to lay with my head at the end of the bed while the nurses tried to assist me to not fall off. You do crazy things when you’re in labor, I know.
I breathed through the contraction and all of the sudden started to feel the baby push. I screamed “oh my gosh I need to push!!!”. I breathed (screamed) through one more contraction, pushed once more screaming "get it out get it out" until the baby was out (cuz I wanted this to be over with) and in an instant SHE was here. Shane said it’s a girl and I laughed and cried happy tears of relief and disbelief and joy and love for this bundle that came in a flash. Born at 6:13pm, less than a half an hour of pulling up and parking in front of the hospital doors, our 7th baby was here! There wasn’t even time for the epidural to get in all the way, so I didn't get to have that blissful epidural experience so many have experience. Another natural birth it was. Thankfully it was as quick as it was and I didn’t have to endure that pain any longer.
She didn't have a name...
She was perfect and cuddly and beautiful and at this point as we were holding her and still laughing at how fast that all went, we still didn’t have a name picked out for her yet. We just soaked in the moment, relaxed, and checked in with the kids, but didn’t tell them the news. We wanted to all be together before letting them know she was a she.
The next few days actually gave us a little scare. Since she came out so fast there was fluid left in her lungs that wasn’t able to clear while she was coming out. So we ended up in the NICU for a couple days to monitor her breathing and make sure her lungs would clear up on their own. It was the scariest things to go through and I didn’t get to sleep with her the first night in the hospital which was torture. Shane stayed with her while I tried to sleep, but of course it wasn't possible. I tossed and turned all night thinking of and praying for her.
It was a weird thing not knowing what her name was right away. The name Norah was a name I had loved since high school after falling in love with Norah Jones’ music and thankfully Shane liked it a lot too. After finding out that it means light, I loved it even more. We waited it out until the next day to make it official just to make sure we both were really loving it and almost 24 hours have her birth we decided she was Norah.
We hadn’t talked about a middle name yet and since all of the kid's middle names are family names I thought of Jane (my grandmother’s middle name) or James (my brother’s middle name). I actually loved James at first and didn't think Shane would be up for it. Surprisingly he loved James the most and I was so excited to tell my brother after we made it official. That was a moment I'll never forget.
The hardest part next to naming her was deciding whether her name would end with an ‘H’ or not. So I did what any artist mama would probably do and wrote out both names on napkins in the hospital room. After writing them over and over again I decided which one I liked writing more and which version looked prettier on paper to me. I love writing “h’s” and I loved the way it looked next to the name James! (if you’re an artist yourself, you know what I mean!) So there it was.
Norah James Kuyper. A spitting image of her big sister Sage and our 3rd baby with deep brown eyes and hair like mama.
A family of 9...
Three days after she was born we finally got to come home. The kids had a hard time understanding why we had to stay so long and were missing us all being together really bad. Once we made it home, their sweet affection for her was something I’ll never forget, I cry just thinking about it now. There was a calm and peace in our living room that afternoon and I couldn't stop smiling and thanking God for this gift, watching it all in front of me.
Never has life felt so fast than it did once we started having kids. Never has life felt like a blur and fuller and more beautiful all at the same time. This gift of motherhood is one I don’t take for granted. And I’m still in awe that I get to be theirs.