Househunting: the move (part 6)

I’m publishing this with my apologies.  It began as Calvin’s birth story, but the back story turned into a story of its own and I had to rename it as part of our househunting saga.  I’ll work on the birth story next, I promise!  I’ll just skip ahead to the part with contractions.  🙂

We had initially planned to move to our new home the weekend before Calvin’s duedate, but our highly optimistic closing date was moved a week later, forcing back the date of our move later along with it.  Since we needed a few days to retexture the ceilings in the living areas and paint the interior, there was now no way we could move before the duedate.

But because my brother and sister-in-law had already given notice to their landlord and planned to move into our home soon after we moved out, we also couldn’t wait too long past the duedate.  I knew ahead of time that a crunch like this was a distinct possibility and had loudly proclaimed that I didn’t care where I gave birth so long as I wasn’t pushing while my bedroom was on the moving van.  I was completely flexible about the whole process and just curious to see how God would time it all.

The first few days went beautifully.  We closed on our house on Friday and camped out in it for fun on Friday and Saturday night while the painting and texturing projects were begun.  After church, we went home Sunday night to regroup.  On Monday and Tuesday, Perry and the older girls finished (with lots of help from wonderful friends!) and cleaned up the new house, while I stayed home and packed endless boxes with the help of the younger and middle children.

And then I had what I can only explain as a hormonal episode.  One day I was fine and relaxed.  The next, I was filled with sudden urgency to be in the new house.  What were we thinking?  We couldn’t plan to move the weekend after my duedate!  I nearly always give birth the weekend after my duedate!  I may as well plan to be pushing while my bedroom was on the moving van!

Perry had mentioned that we could rent the moving van a couple of days early and just load as we packed, to keep piles of boxes from accumulating around us while we worked.  I went a step further and convinced him that we were very nearly done packing.  Couldn’t we just load up the truck tonight?

When he pressed for a reason why I suddenly thought it was necessary to move right now, I hesitated, unsure of my own motivation.  Then I explained that I felt as though my body was ready for labor and just waiting for everything to be done.  I felt like I was already in labor, though nothing was happening yet.  I felt on hold.  He thought that imminent labor might be a good reason to postpone the move until after I had the baby, but I was convinced that my body could outwait us.  We could lose a week or more with me slipping into more and more of a hormonal frenzy while everyone’s schedule went to pieces.  I wanted to be done.  I needed to be done.  I wanted to settle into the new house asap, where I could fully relax and be ready for labor.

He had his doubts but quickly relented on the condition that I could find some help to load the truck.  Maybe it’s because we have lots of pretty daughters, or maybe we just have particularly good friends, but I was able to find a good crew of volunteers on short notice, and we were off!

I gave the girls instructions to keep working and took off for town.  On my way I called to reserve a moving van – not a problem in the middle of the week.  Another advantage to getting this done before the weekend!  I just knew all would go well and our move would be done even before we had planned to start.  I was so glad Perry had agreed to let us do this now, so we could be well settled before I went into labor.

Since we were expecting help to arrive soon, I was in a hurry to get home with the moving van.  I wasn’t sure how to read the markings on the gas gauge, but the paperwork had shown 1/4 tank of gas, so I knew it would be enough to get to the house.  I very nearly stopped at the last gas station just so we wouldn’t have to add gas when we turned in the truck, but I didn’t know which side the tank was on and all the pumps were backed up with waiting vehicles.  There was no time or need to do it now.  I was only 10 minutes from home, and our help was probably already there waiting for the truck.

On a steep hill three miles from home, the van lurched and I felt and heard a sickening thud in the rear as the engine lost power.  I gave it more gas and the engine revved but the van gradually lost momentum and slowed to a stop halfway up the hill.  I shut off the engine and called Perry.  “I think the transmission just went out.  It sounds like it’s stuck in low gear, and I’m not getting anywhere.”  He told me to call U-Haul and demand a replacement while I tried to continue the drive home.

I let the engine rest a moment, rolled the truck backward down the hill, and tried again.  With a running start, I made it up the hill and drove the rest of the way without incident – until the last long hill before my driveway.  Halfway up the hill, it happened again.  This time there was no thud, just the same loss of power.  This time I suddenly knew exactly what the problem was.  I called Perry again.

“I’m an idiot.  It’s not the transmission,” I told him.  “That bang I heard was the appliance dolly falling over as I went up the first hill.  I know what’s wrong, and it’s my fault.”  I had seen the gas gauge in our other vehicles vary wildly on these steep hills over the years.  On a slope, the gas sloshes toward the downhill end of the tank.  If the level was low to begin with and the fuel pump happens to be in the front of the tank, as you head up a hill  it will have nothing to pump.  You’re not exactly out of gas, but you might as well be.

Perry was kind and encouraging.  “You’re not an idiot.  Don’t worry about it.  Call Kaitlyn to come pick you up and I’ll bring home some gas in an hour.”  But I was frustrated and still wanted to get things moving.  I was only 500 feet below my driveway so I walked home and learned that our help was running later than planned.  They hadn’t even arrived yet.  Irony, anyone?  I had the kids put 2 empty gas cans in our own van and drove to the gas station, passing our help on the way.  The gas station was now deserted.  More irony.  I brought back 10 gallons and poured them into the tank of the moving van, praying silently the whole time.  It started right up and finished the hill without a hiccup.

I backed the truck up to the house so loading could begin and slowly walked back out to the road to pick up my own van, humbled by my mistake but happy that things could finally progress.  We hadn’t lost too much time, and I knew it wouldn’t take long to load a moving van.

It soon became apparent that I had pulled the trigger too soon.  We were woefully unprepared.  The stacks of full boxes quickly disappeared into the depths of the moving van along with some of our larger furniture items, leaving behind more unpacked possessions that I had ever dreamed would fit into our little house.  The piles of empty boxes disappeared with alarming speed, along with the packing tape.  The hours ticked by as our friends worked on uncomplainingly, packing boxes rather than loading the truck.  I was mortified, and to make it worse I wasn’t even allowed to do penance by working alongside my victims.  I helped as much as I was allowed, but was under constant surveillance and after a couple of hours I wasn’t allowed to work at all.  Of all nights, tonight I must not go into labor.  I had created this mess, and that would be the only way to make it worse at this point.  God graciously withheld that bit of irony from the evening.

At 10 PM, tired, frustrated, and still surrounded by endless piles of stuff, we decided to call it a night. The truck was full and we had everything we needed and much, much more. We would have to finish on another day, with another truck. We thanked our help profusely and sent them home, then made the drive to our own new home.

Oh, and if you really want to read Calvin’s birth story, here is part 1.  Like the last one, it was exciting.


  1. Wait a minute! Hold everything! You have moved to a much larger abode. Right? Does that mean you are going to change the name of your blog?!?

  2. Kimberley says:

    I know exactly what that ‘on hold’ feeling is. I experienced that sensation with very similar circumstances and my doula said it isn’t uncommon. Our bodies know when the nest is ready! My second waited while ‘on hold’ and is the only of my children who was born past his due date.

  3. I’m enjoying your story! But I’m so glad for you that you have this behind you and have your beautiful healthy boy. 🙂 Just an FYI, if you are ever in a car and not familiar with which side the gas tank is on, look at your fuel guage display in your dash. There will be an arrow beside the fuel pump picture that points to the side of the car you need to put gas in. Helpful to know for rentals!

    • Sheila, I love that feature in newer vehicles but alas, it’s not always there in the older ones. There was no hint inside the cab of where the tank might lie, and even outside it turned out to be less than obvious. It was an unmarked port on the passenger side of the cab itself, just behind the step. I opened the cap and sniffed just to be sure before I poured the gas in. :p

      • Bummer! I rent cars fairly often and only heard about this a couple of years ago. So much nicer to know than to have to stop the car and walk around it before you can pull up to the pump. 🙂

  4. My husband did one of those fast moves with me. He invited men over to “just pack the furniture and heavy boxes,” but then he decided we should just get it over with and move. I had strange men stuffing my possessions into garbage bags and my husband tossing loose things inside the moving van. It was horrible then but funny now.

  5. Know what I love about this? How our husbands rescue us time and again from our own over achieving selves!! And they don’t even get mad about it. I just love how your Perry said, “You’re not an idiot.” Heck, even though I think they actually agree sometimes that we are being idiots, at least they comfort us and keep that to themsleves. LOL!

  6. You know what I love about your blog? You always have such an interesting life…Never a dull moment!

  7. Stories like these become family legends ;-). Little Calvin will really get a kick out of this one. I can just hear him now — “Tell me the story Mama! Tell me the story of how you moved into our house right before I was born!”.

    I am also glad that you finished the house story before posting the birth story. I am looking forward to the birth story.

  8. I feel your mortifying pain. I did the same thing although I can’t blame it on being expectant. I can only blame it on the shock of having to move (a loooooong story from which you need to be spared). We moved and in God’s graciousness, we’ve moved back and into our same home as before. It was lots easier moving back in because we knew where to put everything! And we were only gone 9months as it turned out. I personally would have prefered having a Baby to show for the past 9 months. Of course, I prefer God’s will. Still. :

  9. I could see myself doing the same thing! impending labor would make anyone anxious! Thankfully, God is gracious and understanding. 🙂

  10. Can you laugh about it all yet? Or is it too soon? 🙂 I’ve been on the other end of one of those types of moves–amazingly, everything does get moved, packed or not!

    I’m glad you made it into your new house before you went into labor!

  11. I can only imagine what trouble that hormonal frenzy would have led me into. Considering your circumstances and state of mind, I think you held it together quite admirably. Thanks for sharing this journey with all of us nosey parkers! I look forward to the birth story!

  12. Lois Groat says:

    Although I am looking forward very much to the birth story, my OCD self is glad you are finishing the moving story first. I have the desire to “see” you moved in *before* you go into labor! 🙂

    • MotherLydia says:

      I want to Like Lois’s comment.

      Though I’m amazed at how FAST you guys got the whole house painted. It took my husband and my dad a WEEK to do the same for our house (which is smaller) And they missed a few things (Laundry room, the DOORS)

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