The Armstrong Archives (87): What’s it Like to Have a Baby During Internship?

The joke is told that the ObGyn’s wife had to flag down a taxi in order to make it to the hospital when her baby was born. I have a friend who teaches at Johns Hopkins and is a pediatric neurologist; she finished taking her medical boards during the early hours of her labor pains! So, compared to what could have happened, Jonathan’s birth wasn’t really so bad…

May 18, 1980. The fun started at the beginning of March. Baby Cakes was due on the 5th, and Dad lent us Grandma a few days early after I had some false labor. He remembered that their third baby was born in the hospital hallway and suspected (rightly) that ours might come in a flash. Jonathan didn’t make an appearance until the 27th (so we had a marvelous month getting spoiled by Mom), but I just barely made it to the hospital in time for the delivery (my doctor did not). So, Alan more or less got to deliver the baby, just as I’d wanted (but Alan did not).

Our third baby wasn’t quite born in the hallway…but almost! Since Alan was a intern and always horribly tired, I really didn’t want to bother him, so although true labor pains began shortly after we went to bed about 10 pm, I didn’t wake him up until 1:00 am when they were getting pretty severe and closer together. He said, “Oh, just let me get one more hour of sleep.” So, I woke him up again at 2:00 am, and at 3:00 am…each time with a similar response. I had always wanted a home birth (feeling like a cat wanting to hide in a closet anyway), and so at 4:00 am I whispered, “Dear, would you like to have the baby at home?” With that, Alan sprang out of bed and helped me get to the hospital. We arrived at just about 5:00 am, and the baby was born twelve minutes later!

Ah, but it was love at first sight! Jonathan was good natured and sweet tempered right from the start. He was also clearly overdue…very round cheeks and overgrown fingernails. When Aaron and Michael came to inspect their prize that evening, Aaron took one look at him and declared, “He looks just like a hamster!” Michael nodded approvingly, and Jon was the “bell of the ball” from that moment on and for a good long time…probably until Jon got big enough to crawl over and sit right in the middle of the boys’ suitcase full of legos!

Then, there was another marvelous two weeks of getting spoiled by Mom, who did everything and only let me out of bed to go out on dates with Alan occasionally. (I should interrupt here to make a few comments about Jonathan, answering the oft-asked questions by inquisitors. Alan was absolutely delighted to have another boy. I was so grateful to have another healthy baby, and so pleased by Alan’s reaction, that I’d be perfectly happy to have six more boys. Which answers the other question people ask. About three days after Jonathan was born, Alan told me he’d thought of two more boys’ names. So had I, so I guess we’re set for at least four more!) Poolside in FLAnyway, Mom did such a fantastic job of taking care of all of us, that by the time Jonathan was three weeks old, we dared to take a flying nine-day vacation in Florida. We “flew” down in the car (via a 25-hour marathon) and spent the entire time with Ormond/Daytona Beach as our home base. We spent most of our time sleeping, swimming, resting, reading, eating, and playing in the sand, be we did manage a few super fun side trips. We went to Cape Kennedy, St. Augustine, MarinelandMarine Land, and Disney World. We never dreamed the boys would enjoy Disney as much as they did, but it turned out to be a real highlight for them, and as Aaron collapsed into the back seat of our car on our way out, he asked, “Can we come back tomorrow?” He didn’t stay awake long enough to hear the answer (which had to be “No”), but I’m sure if we ever get back to Florida, Disney World will have to be on the agenda. [In fact, I think we’ve been over 50 times since…]Disney WorldWe came back brown and rested (which was another wonder to me; usually I come home from vacations to get rested up), and Alan was hard at work thinking. One real disadvantage of internship is always being so busy he never has time to think. I guess that can be an advantage too, since he’s too busy to think about how busy his is—which might tend to depress him (if he had time to get depressed). He was thinking about medicine, and that it’s a worthwhile way to support his family and help people, but it’s not (at least for him) worth sacrificing his life for: e.g. spending his total energy doing. He is quite interested in emergency medicine, which is both interesting and flexible. Last weekend he looked over a job opening in Cheboygan, seventy miles from the Soo on Lake Huron. (We also got to spend a very happy Mother’s Day in the Soo!) He is still undecided but waiting on the Lord, who always answers by peace.

As for the boys, they’re doing just fine. Aaron and Michael are like streaks going out the door after breakfast, and the books, puzzles, and legos are starting to get dusty. It’s so great to live where there’s plenty of grass and children. While Aaron and I were making the beds this morning, he told me he thought he’d like to stay home another year (not turning five until Oct. 2). We had always thought he would never be emotionally ready for kindergarten this fall, but he is really starting to mature socially and has spells of seeming civil. We still feel relatively sure we’ll have him wait another year, but we’re watching him to see. Michael continues to be happy, lively, and full of small boy jokes and good humor. He and Aaron are inseparable companions, and it has really taken the pressure off having a new baby. Since they have each other, they don’t seem a bit jealous of Jonathan. And, marvel of marvels, Jonathan does all those neat baby things I thought were only written in books by some sadist trying to make mothers feel like failures: He eats every four hours, sleeps through the night, plays contentedly by himself (for short periods…but that’s an improvement), and smiles just often enough to keep the boys wrapped around his finger.

Meanwhile, I got replaced in the Bible Club. Instead, I’m now teaching the Book of Romans at the ladies’ Bible study. Much as I love working with children, I am also thoroughly enjoying the opportunity for fellowship and study this affords. Now I can do some much longed-for reading that previously hadn’t made it up high enough on my priorities list. Speaking of priorities, I need to get better organized to survive… a bent ear to hear the Spirit and a deaf ear to ignore the world…less distraction and more direction! Speaking of hearing—Jon just woke up and wants to eat. I guess he needs to be heard too! 🙂