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.