Perhaps it isn’t coincidence — just a few short hours after I wrote this post about learning to live life just one day at a time, our lives changed completely, in less time than it takes to watch your favourite romantic comedy. It’s a privilege to tell the story and I hope to do it justice (sorry it has taken me so long to tell it)  — it was even more a privilege to get to live the story, and I find myself, once again overwhelmed by God’s unrelenting mercy, favour and blessings. Unmerited favour keeps coming my way — and certain of how undeserving I am, I am thankful for His amazing grace.

Three days after the due date I’d calculated, and perhaps four hours after I’d finally managed to fall asleep, I woke up and everything just felt different, although I’m not sure I can explain exactly how or why. I wasn’t having proper contractions to speak of — I just woke up to go to the bathroom — but my spider senses were tingling: change was imminent.

I did what any normal gal would do at 5 am when she thinks she might be going into labor. I started putting on makeup. This relaxing part of my daily routine kept me from freaking out and waking the Hero Hubs before I knew this wasn’t a false alarm. Quietly standing in front of the mirror, the contractions started coming. Gentle, mild… maybe this could be it but I’m not sure contractions.

I started timing them, they started speeding up, the intensity increased, and I woke the Hubs. Within ten minutes I was certain it was time for him to call my Mom. Because of my previous delivery with the Tank, we knew we were probably going to need to move fast.

I pulled on some clothes (not a little black dress like last time, mind you — I had my senses together a little better this time) and between contractions was grabbing the few last minute things I wanted to throw in the hospital bag.

And, good news, I had my make-up on already.

We both tried to grab a bit of cereal quickly before running out the door. My Mom arrived in no time, I had six mouthfuls, and felt guilty for telling the Hubs I thought we were going to have to leave the cereal and go.

Around 6:25 am we walked through the doors of the hospital (a five minute drive from our house) and headed up to the third floor, the labor and delivery area. I occasionally had to stop and breathe my way through a contraction. As the doors of the elevator opened, two nurses were standing at a computer screen trying to figure something out together. After a brief wait, HH gently interrupted to mention how quickly our last child arrived.

They stopped what they were doing and one of the nurses escorted me to an exam room, suggested I change into a hospital gown and asked for a urine sample. I was able to change clothes but apologized that I could not provide the sample she requested. I got the feeling they didn’t know how serious I was about having a baby, like, right then.

Another nurse came in to examine me, and the Hubs gently suggested that I no longer needed to time my contractions. At this point I’d been timing them for exactly 52 minutes and 10 seconds.He was steady by my side, slowly counting to thirty every time I asked, massaging my hand rough, to distract me from the discomfort. I remember praying, thanking the Lord in the midst of the pain: she was finally on her way.

I didn’t hear the diagnosis immediately after the examination, but a wheelchair arrived very quickly to take me to the delivery room. With some assistance I got off the examination table. I stood still for a moment to remove the hair band from my wrist and pull my hair back. I laugh to remember it now, but at the time, it felt like a scene in an epic film, where a warrior is flexing his bow or drawing his sword: my hair was pulled back, I was ready for battle.

Around a corner, one contraction and thirty seconds of steady counting later, on a new table in the delivery room, I finally heard the diagnosis I’d missed the first time as the doctor walked in: She’s nine centimeters with a bulging bag.

Translation for those who might not be able to interpret this terminology: the body is ready. It’s baby time.

I didn’t want an IV, but at this point, I didn’t care enough to argue. {Call me crazy for not wanting any drugs while giving birth, and complaining about the discomfort of sticking a needle in my hand.} They asked me not to push, even if I felt the urge, while they were putting the IV in. A moment later, the doctor was standing in front of me, and smiling she asked, “Would you like me to break the bag?”

She could see I was uncertain of how to answer.

“If I do, the baby will come.”

A little overwhelmed by it all, I looked to the Hubs for help. “It’s fine, honey. The baby is coming.”

That familiar feeling — like the waters that baptized dear old Mr. Potato Head as he sped us to the hospital 21 months ago — was there, immediately followed by the urge to push.

With the first push — I kid you not, friends, the first push — the head was there, crowning.

The nurses coached me on how to push the second time. Legs here, chin into chest, wait for it. And with this deep, warrior-cry, shout, holler-bellow, which I’ve only used on two previous occasions, both times to deliver a baby, I pushed the longest, hardest, bravest push I could muster, with a half-pause in the middle and a further push until it. was. finished.

And finished, it was, and with that, head, shoulders, knees and toes, there was no longer a baby in my belly — she was out, she was in the world.

I was incredibly relieved by the speed of it all — they laid her on my tummy, a tiny little bum up in the air, facing the other way, I saw her head full of dark brown hair before I ever got to see her face.

With a joyful whisper I touched her for the first time: Arabella. Arabella.

I held her briefly, they cleaned her gently, I nursed her joyfully for the first time. I saw her face when they lay her on the scale, and it was as if the Bear was back, in baby form — she looks just like her older brother when he was a baby, but with lots more hair.

The after-pains were bothersome, the IV was a nuisance, but when I walked from that delivery room, past the nursery where she was getting her first proper bath, the Hero Hubs there with a camera, I was walking on a cloud.

This was the wave I was waiting to catch. This was the story I was holding on to hope for.

Ara, from the latin, means altar. Bella, is of course related to the latin and Italian words meaning beautiful. Literally meaning beautiful altar, sometimes prayerful, we pray her life, like her name, will be a place where heaven touches earth, and vice versa.

{Her name was first used in Scotland in the Middle Ages. Extra special.}

Although we had a little extra time at the hospital this time around, she still beat her brother’s record. All 8 pounds and 7 ounces of her, arriving at 6:56 am — she edged him out by perhaps fifteen minutes or so.

We joyfully welcome Arabella to our family.

Record-breaking, beautiful.