(any readers worried about reading further fearing unwanted details about childbirth 
- fear not, I've filtered and edited and tried to be discreet - so read on my friends)

I know the question that brought you here today - is eight enough?

and I'll answer that-

but first-

Somewhere in April of this year I woke up early one morning - still dark outside.

Dean had already left for work without me noticing as he usually does.

The kids (Brett, Lauren and Wade) were just starting to drag themselves out of bed to start their am routine. I looked at the clock - already giving myself permission to go back to sleep. I hadn't felt good all weekend.

As I closed my eyes to fall back asleep, sleep didn't come. I had an uneasy feeling, a heavy thought process- And then all of a sudden, like something from a tv sitcom, I sat straight up in bed wide-eyed and thought,
- I'm pregnant!

I quickly dismissed the thought - being pregnant was so far off our radar it seemed kinda, well, impossible (for reals it was nearly impossible.)

Yet I laid there, not able to think of anything else and starting to add up the weird coincidences in my mind.

I couldn't stand another minute of suspicion. Twenty seconds later I was dressed and walking past my still zombified kids.

I told them I'd be back,
I was running to the store -
uhhh...for milk.

I was the only customer in the little market that early in the morning. The employees were still opening up doors and turning on lights. I picked up the most inexpensive home pregnancy test and made my way to the checkout. I also grabbed a large carton of orange juice and saltines unaware that my queasy stomach was trying to tell me something.

At the check out, I couldn't disguise the little rectangular box between the other groceries. The cashier looked at me and said with a smile "I hope you get whatever answer you are hoping for..." I wasn't sure if she was saying what I thought she was saying, but when I looked in her eyes I could see her sincerity. There was a tiny moment of understanding between the two of us at 6:30 in the morning.

I cleared my throat to say something, but I had no words. She said, "good luck hun" and I took my grocery bag and walked away and before I reached the door I whispered to myself as the tears fell - "yep I'm pregnant."

Over the last few months I have thought about that morning a lot. I look around me now and am so sharply aware of my blessings, it makes me ashamed and disappointed in myself that I was so ungrateful, so scared, so unable to see the big picture.

Well, this is the big picture.

Admittedly, for a very long time all I could see was the scribble on the wall.

I told Dean the baby news that morning over the phone. It was the first time I had ever taken a pregnancy test without him nearby. I'm sure when I told him he wanted to keep driving 700 miles South but instead he just let me cry and sob and question how we were going to manage.

The next several months were weird, it felt like time was actually moving backwards.

In July I said goodbye to my oldest, Brett and sent him off to be a missionary for two years, knowing he would be in Mexico when the new baby arrived and he'd miss it all.

Sometimes I thought I'd never stop crying.

The months were long, but the weeks were...mmm, actually also long.

I developed gestational diabetes and soon after my hips and back decided that carrying #8 was against their Union contract and one day they just walked off the job.

Never complain to your family that you don't like your picture taken, because at some point they just stop taking pictures of you.

This pregnancy I had about 4 decent pictures of me, and this is the best one.

As my belly grew and grew the kids liked to make fun of me.

One day they were laughing at me because my shirt didn't quite fit over my belly and I sat there talking to everyone not realizing it.

Dean joked along with the kids and said, "you remind me of that old cartoon..."

He didn't even have to finish his sentence,

I knew exactly what he was talking about.

True story:
When I was about 37 weeks along I was at Target, shopping without my kids.
(mothers everywhere high five each other)

I was at the resister paying for my groceries and had my wallet opened on the counter.
The young, hipster cashier in skinny jeans and Woody Allen glasses said to me;
"wow that's impressive..."

hmmm...I thought, maybe he was impressed with my husband's XXL city-league tournament co-ed softball champs shirt that I was wearing. But then I looked up and he was pantomiming, motioning to my round, obvious pregnant belly.

I sheepishly said;

ha ha thanks
uh I think - 
what do you mean, impressive?"

He responded, tapping on my drivers license still in my wallet; "well impressive cause of your age"

(except as he said "cause of your age" in my head it sounded amplified and in super slow motion and time stood still and a fly buzzed slowly passed my peripheral and I felt the full weight of what he was saying "caaaause of yourrrrr aaaagggeee..." and I looked around as if to say to everyone while pointing to him with my thumb...pshh, can you believe this guy?!?)

Now folks, I realize I am no spring chicken - my hips and ambition realize it too.

But I never thought that I would be an oddity to be pitied or gawked at.

Returning to my convo with (hashtag) Target boy I said; "ha ha wow! how old do you think I am?"

He shrugged and said; "...I just thought after a certain age people stop having kids..."
I looked around left, right and up to the ceiling and said, "alight! ha ha! you got me!...which camera should I look in?" And suddenly I really, really wished I had a witness to the conversation I was having.

I looked at him incredulously lacking real words to express my feelings at the moment.

Then I realized something. He was not to blame.

In Target boy's tiny sphere of hot, young moms that pass through his checkout line each day with their "baby bumps" the size of my flexed bicep and their beach waved hair and chunky jewelry and Jessica Simpson high heels and Victoria Beckham styled children - to him I was just an oddity, reality show material.

And then as if he knew he needed to restore balance to the fragile pregnant lady universe he asked;

"so is this your first?"

".........yeppers!" I said confidently as I took my receipt and waddled away.

With all my other pregnancies, I have waited a week or more after my due date, hoping to start on my own.

This time however, I felt like I needed to be started early- just by a week.

I wasn't sleeping at all and I shouldn't complain but looking back I really wasn't functioning like a normal human being. I was walking, slumping from here to there expecting my hips to break in half any moment. I had non-existent energy, raging heartburn and headaches and the mental stability of a jilted wife on the Jerry Springer Show (okay, I'm done complaining)

So the doctor agreed to start me a week early.

I received notice from Brett's mission president that we could NOT contact him with the baby news until the following Monday. I was devastated and wanted to change my induction to the next Monday when Brett would have the news the same day with the rest of us.

Common sense prevailed and I was to be induced on Tuesday the 21st of October.

That Monday night before my seven kids became eight - Dean and I took the kids to the mall to pick out a few baby items for their new little brother or sister.

Top name choices were: Summer, Phoenix, Rocky, Tree, Grass, Ebola, Kim Kardashian...

The next day was the big day. We sent the kids off to school, because the hospital check-in wasn't till later that afternoon.

It was the strangest thing to be running errands around town, knowing in a few hours I would be having a baby.

At Costco I was caught up in sentiment and I said excitedly to the cashier -
"I'm going to have my baby today...!!" 

The guy looked at me and wow...
oh my goodness you guys,
he said the sweetest thing!
It was so cute, he said, "ma'am, don't forget your card."

I excused Lauren from school a little early and she drove to the other schools and rounded up all Kal, Riv and Wade. It calmed my nerves to have all the kids home with me before we left. We all hung out in my room as I finished packing my hospital bag.

More baby names were discussed and I gave the kids last minute instructions; "alright guys, now when you come to visit me at the hospital, don't wear clothes you get from that old storage box in the crawl space, behind the stairs, in the basement - I promise your normal, regular clothes are fine, and how about combing your hair and wearing shoes I've actually seen before..."

I guess it means a lot to me to have the hospital staff see that my kids don't look abandoned.

Moments before we needed to leave, Laur offered to paint my toes and I was like,
 "hold up, I have feet?!"

I listed off more last-minute instructions;
do your homework, be good to each other, wear underwear etc.

A quick family prayer along with hugs and promises to be good.
Lauren's was a bit teary-eyed which surprised me cause I thought she only cried over a low cel phone battery.

For a second I looked at her standing in my kitchen and pictured her standing there holding her own baby someday. Childhood slips by way too fast my friends - yes it does.  

The kids followed us outside to say goodbye.
They stayed on the street waving to us until we turned at the end of the road.

We checked in to the hospital around 4:00 in the afternoon. 

It was a surreal experience being in the delivery room with Dean for the eighth time, 
anticipating the birth of another baby.

Dean and I hadn't really talked about our game plan for labor.
To tell you the truth I was in complete denial. 

If you could see the thought bubble above my head it would say;
"don't freak out, 
don't freak out,
   you're freaking out!!" 

(stripes are slimming, right?)

The nurses attached an IV to my arm and started the Pitocin drip going in right away.
Ah, Pitocin- the necessary evil
Within twenty minutes or so I could feel the affects of the drip and was starting to feel the contractions revving up.

Dean kept insisting that I chill out, relax and sleep, but my anxiety was getting the best of me. Four years ago when Canyon was born I had told myself that was the last time I'd have to go through labor.
And yet here I was again. 

As I thought about the impending pain-train that was headed my way I started to doubt myself. The only thing that soothed me was to listen to hipster music that Lauren had downloaded for me and say to myself over and over "you got this, stay strong, bring it on!"
Like a broken record, that phrase played over and over in my head.

I was so concentrated that I meditated through the first few hours of labor.

While I labored, Dean fielded calls from home for me:

"hold on I'll ask;
pssst...Hil, sorry hun,
but River wants to know if she can have a
 glitter nail party on your bed...whadda ya think?"

As labor became more difficult I gritted my teeth through each contraction and I wouldn't allow myself to open my eyes until 5 contractions had passed.

I took my whole labor 5 contractions at a time.

The pain was real and getting more real.

I clenched my eyes shut and said to myself, "stay strong, bring it on, stay strong, bring it on!"  

(okay, who forgot to tell me the sideways peace sign looks really lame) 

Dean was encouraging and talking to the nurses on my behalf.

Quickly though, the control gave way to panic.

The contractions were coming on too strong, one right after the other with no time in between to recover. The waves of pain were becoming too difficult to breath through.
Dean tried what he could to help, but I could feel myself forming the words, "I give up"

About 8:30 at night, the nurse came in and I sat up in bed and opened my eyes to see that I had worked through almost four hours of labor.

I looked outside and the hospital lights reflected off the window and in my mind I thought it was the sun coming up - I thought it was morning and I had been in labor all night long -

I was inconsolable.

Dean is very skilled at keeping cool when I fall apart. He knew just what to say to help me calm down. Since 4:00 that afternoon the nurses had been increasing the pitocin dosage at 1/2 hour intervals and I was currently at the highest dosage.

The pitocin was in overdrive and my body was having a hard time catching up and coping with the pain. For a while I refused to look at the monitor by the bed that was telling me the length and strength of each contraction.

The problem was the contractions were coming too fast and too furious. I was confused because that usually means the baby is about to be born, but I yet I still didn't feel like I needed to push.

The nurse offered to check me but my biggest fear was that after 4 hours of hard labor, that the nurse would check me and I would only be a 5 - meaning no progress.

The time was 8:40 pm - and I cautiously agreed to check my progress.

The nurse checked me -

she looked at Dean and then at me and faked a smile and said;
"well hun, you're a 5 - -  a good 5. . . hang in there"

(progression in labor is measured on a 1 out of 10 scale - the baby is born at 10)

I was a 5.

ahhhhh! It was pure agony to hear those words! I truly thought I could go no further, not a second more. The nurse gave me a little pep talk as she typed on the computer and then left the room.
I hardly heard what she said because I was devising a plan.

I just needed to go out in the hall and recruit someone to fill in for me and then they could have the baby and I would just walk away and get something to eat at Chick-fil-A and i'd check in on everyone later. Cross my heart, that is exactly what I was thinking and at the time it all seemed very reasonable.

At some point I also asked Dean to call Lauren to see if she wanted to hurry over to witness the miracle of birth.
Dean hesitated to call but I he called her.

Lauren's reaction; "hmmm - nahh, I'm good."

I was delirious and hallucinating.

The contractions were relentless. Each one stronger and meaner than the next.

The nurse peeked in on me a few minutes later and said "do you want me to check you?" I tried to form words, but closing my eyes and shaking my head was the only thing that I could do. I heard the nurse say, "well, just call me if things all of a sudden feel...different"

I heard the curtain slide and the door close and then, just then, like a large wave overtaking a carefree sunbather, suddenly a contraction the size of Africa hit me...and then it happened - I felt A LOT of pressure - I knew that I was it was time.

Not knowing what to do, being scared to death and being in as much pain/panic as I think I've even been in my life I yelled to through clenched teeth to Dean, "THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT!!!"

Dean is so great and I remember he calmly, but swiftly walked over to the door, hardly leaving my side and said to the nurse "this is it!"

The nurse walked in and slipped on some gloves and did a quick baby check - her eyes widened and in one smooth motion she snapped off her gloves, hit the code button on the wall and loudly declared to the other nurses in the hall "baby is here!"    

Things got kinda fuzzy after that.

Huge, gigantic urges to push came one right after the other with not even thirty seconds in between. The room instantly lit up with bright lights and filled with nurses and doctors.

Dean was still right there with me and I felt like the air in the room was getting thin.

I heard instructions from the nurses to breath and open my eyes, but the only thing I was physically able to do was to push. My body had taken over and I was no longer in control. The pushing was horrible and graphic and uncontrolled and I felt like everything was going too fast and unsafe but I was not able to do anything about it. The charge nurse squeezed my hand to call me back to reality and said firmly, "Hilary, I need you to breath through this contraction, DO NOT PUSH!"

Just that moment a massive contraction crashed over me and with every ounce of my flesh I pushed and saw light and felt fire and then with a ringing in my ears and with power and force and one final push, at eight fifty two at night, I delivered a baby boy.

I fell back to the bed, almost fainting from relief.

It was over.
My own doctor, came rushing in to the room right then, missing the birth just barely.

I waited and waited to hear that familiar first cry of my new baby, but it didn't come. I looked to my left and could see a half dozen nurses surrounding the little bed and working intensely and saying, "come on little guy, come on..."

Dean, still at my side, whispered; "it's a boy!" and this is the part where I usually cry and laugh and take a big breath and joke with the doctor.

Instead I could only feel the intensity in the room. The baby wasn't breathing.
I finally heard a slight gurgled cry.
It didn't sound right.
The nurses stated, "we're taking him."
(later I realize they were taking him to the NICU)

One nurse brought my baby boy over to me for a tiny little four second hello/goodbye.

And with that they rushed him away.

That first night Dean and I got a crash course in all things NICU.
A Hallowed place in my opinion.

The next morning, we were able to spend a little time with our babe, and we tried to think of a proper name for such a fighter.

(The name RONAN ARROW ROBERTS was officially given weeks later, but there in the hospital I just called him my Fighter)

Each day in the hospital I held out hope that our babe would be going home with us just like the rest of my kids did. Reality was that our little Ronan was very sick and struggling hard his first few days in this world.

And then the day came when it was time for me to leave the hospital, but the baby was staying. I was going to be stoic, if it was the last thing I did.

I looked around at others there in the hospital and among my own family and friends that have struggled through so much more than us.

And I just couldn't allow myself to feel bad.

A selfie in the hospital room mirror, holding back the tears seemed like an okay thing to do while waiting for my husband to come and take me home.

We were checking out, going home to our six other kids who needed us.
Going home and leaving our days old baby upstairs in the very capable hands of the NICU nurses and doctors, but still -
it kinda hurt.

Home was nice. I missed feeling normal.

(Dear mom welcome back, you look good without makeup, the baby is so cute i love you love Kal) 

The next ten days were a strange mix of urgently wanting to be home, to take care of the rest of my family - and then when I was home immediately wanting desperately to be back at the hospital taking care of my new baby. 
Many of you reading this have been there, done that. 

Ronan had a tiny little puncture in his lungs, a pneumothorax - He then developed 
pneumonia and an undetermined infection and we were told he was in general, septic.

The days in the NICU were long and exhausting but important for little Ro. 
I know for a fact we wouldn't have him here with us today if not for them.

And I don't think I knew happiness before the day when we were able to bring our new baby home.

(Canyon and Quincy showing Ronan pics of Brett)

Since walking in the back door for the first time with Ronan, 
I've taken my own sweet time to get back to "normal."
Is there even such a word?

Lauren came home from school the other day and said;
"so you're still going with the sweats, huh mom?"

I think I have forgot how to put a decent meal on the table,
and laundry has been taken over by my teenagers who only wash
what they happen to need the next day.

As much as I hate Part 2 blog posts,
there is just no other way to say what I want to say without a part 2.

So stayed tuned for part 2 coming soon where I will answer questions like;
        Is the baby sleeping through the night?
       What does Brett think of the new baby?
       Is it a smart thing to make major hairstyle decisions right after birth?
       Did Dean allow you to leave all your worldly possessions to the NICU doctors and nurses
       like you wanted to?
And to answer one more important question;  sooooo Hilary. . . . IS EIGHT ENOUGH?

beyond measure,


The most painful thing I've gone through is leaving my newborn babies at the hospital. At the same time...isn't the NICU amazing? My boys were in there for 3 weeks but are now happy, healthy children. What a blessing those doctors and nurses are. I'm so glad my newest baby cousin is now doing so great. Thanks for sharing! I love hearing birth stories!
Merrie said…
Oh Hil! This one made me cry. I just love this so much. I am sorry you went through that and so, so glad Roanin is ok!
Merrie said…
Sorry! Ronan.
Merrie said…
Just one more thing:) Next morning, I am reading these funny stories to my kids and Reagan, looking at the just had the baby photo said, no lie...."Why does she look so freakin good??". I rest my case that you are the coolest Aunt around!

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