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one year ago today… freya

December 17, 2012 life

one year ago, we were planning a family excursion to chicago.  instead of seeing zoo lights that day, we met our new baby girl, freya.  although many of you have read the story of her birth, i thought it would be enjoyable to relive that day.  so here it is… happy birthday freya.

here she is… well, here’s her story to start out with.  nope, not that easy, let me give you a little history.  this is baby #5.  philan is a crazy woman when it comes to everything in life, including carrying a baby in her belly while rock climbing, white water rafting, ice skating, jury duty.  if it’s on the list of prohibited activities while pregnant, it’s probably been done.  not that she tempts fate, but she doesn’t let anything in life slow her down.  i love that about her.

along with the other kids, we did not know what we were having, just praying for another beautiful healthy baby.  here’s what we knew… we were due on december 17, and were most likely going to be a week late (all four were so this one was going to be too…).  we were going to deliver at rockford memorial hospital with our amazing midwife.  besides that, i was once again determined and planning on being able to deliver my child (did so with cashin & brig).

so saturday morning, on our due date, philan decides that we would stick to the plan and head to chicago, she was feeling great.  we would do a little shopping, meet our friends mat & jessica & their kids for dinner, and then join them for a stroll through lincoln park zoo for zoo lights.  after all, we were having a baby in a few days and didn’t see another day in the holiday schedule to head downtown.  so we packed up the two littlest boys in the mini cooper, added a few hats and gloves into the trunk, and headed downtown.  on the way down, philan mentioned to me that she was having a few mild contractions, and they were very sporadic.  good ole braxton hicks starting in.  we got to the city in the afternoon and hit container store and land of nod for a bit of christmas shopping.  the boys were doing great and cashin couldn’t wait to meet up with his friends and head to zoo lights.  next stop, rei, to grab some new mittens for brig and gloves for cashin.  we got out of the car and philan & the boys went in while i paid my dues to the wonderful city of chicago parking meter.  when i got inside and found them, philan was in the middle of another contraction and she mentioned that this one felt a little more like a real one.  she added that she had been having them more regularly now and they were getting more intense.  how did i miss that you might ask… well, she’s a crazy woman who feels no pain.  seriously her pain tolerance is completely off the charts, so until she told me, there was no telling, after all, nothing slows down this woman.  at that time, we decided that it was probably best to head back to rockford, because we might be having a baby… but wait, what about dinner and zoo lights?  well, we cancelled dinner with our friends and decided to take the boys to zoo lights for a bit and then head home.  cashin had been so patient  all day that we figured we’d squeeze in a lion and monkey sighting before making the trek home.  philan dropped me and the boys off and was going to wait in front of the entrance for us to come out… nope.  she decided to drive the stick-shift mini around (while contracting) to find parking so she could join us… in the mean time, cashin, brig, and i had made it into the zoo and saw some cheetahs, a linx, and a mighty lion.  we also got a glimpse of santa while we were checking out the big cats.  when we got outside of the lion house, i called philan to see how she was feeling and she said she’d be right there, she found a close parking space and was just walking in.  the place was mobbed, absolutely packed, so me and they boys waited and looked at the millions of lights patiently waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for mommy.  and then she walks up and gives me the look… time to go… now!

at this time, the contractions were definitely the real ones, about 12 minutes apart.  the ones that make you stop in your tracks.  so i grab brig and run to the car (with him screaming and dropping his boots along the way).  we jump in the mini and head to the entrance to pick up philan & cashin.  philan gets in, i buckle the boys and we hit traffic.  lincoln to fullerton to I-90 never took so long.  and although the mini is small, its still very tough to get anywhere in the city on a busy saturday night.  poor cashin & brig.  anticipating going to dinner and then skipping it, it had been hours since any of us had eaten.  a promise of chicken nuggets if we saw the arches, while philan mouths to me “you’re not stopping at mcdonalds” and adds out loud “you need to get us out of the city, now!”  I-90 was clear sailing, for one mile.  and then dead stop.  if you know anything about chicago traffic, you know that dead stop on outbound I-90 at addison when you’re really in a hurry is not a good thing.  once again, the voice of reason says “i don’t care if we get a $500.00 ticket, get on the shoulder and drive.  and if you don’t do it, then move over and let me drive, you’ve gotta get me to rockford.”  all of a sudden, we became a part of the movie “the italian job.”  we were flying up the shoulder, passing everybody like a bat-out-of-hell while cashin and brig were yelling about chicken nuggets and how cool it was that we were driving the mini so fast passing everybody… oh and contractions were way closer than 10 minutes apart by now.  traffic opens up, no cops around, and we’re back in the left lane hitting triple digits on the giant speedometer.  we get near o’hare and now the contractions are closing in on 6 minutes apart.  o’hare to rockford…at least 1 hour 40 minutes in decent traffic.  we get around woodfield mall and now the intense contractions are about 3 minutes apart.  my brain is calmly going crazy.  what do we do with the boys, where’s the nearest hospital to I-90, how much is it going to cost if we have to remove the passenger seat in the mini and have it professionally cleaned after the water breaks, how many coats do we have to wrap the baby in if we do this on the side of I-90, what do i have to cut the umbilical cord, lots of things go through your head when your gonna have a baby.  after a quick chat on the phone with our midwife, it was about time to make a decision… get off on randall road and go to sherman hospital or try to make it to rockford.  it wasn’t an easy decision.  our home is rockford, our midwife is in rockford, the plan was rockford.  but there was the 40 miles of cornfields with nothing else between randall road and rockford… passing the elgin toll plaza, it was a split second decision… another contraction comes and that’s it… we’re getting off.

in the mean time, i was able to get a hold of my dad and mom and they were on their way to rockford to watch the boys and we did get a hold of them before they got too far and redirected them to sherman.  sherman hospital, nice beautiful new state-of-the-art hospital that we knew nothing about…ugh.  we get inside (of course the boys had fallen asleep in the car so i dragged them in with no shoes, no coats, just waking up, totally confused…).  mom & dad got there just as we finished up the paperwork in the ER.  yes, cashin & brig could finally get their chicken nuggets.  boys taken care of, time to concentrate on the task at hand once again.

we headed up to labor & delivery and got settled in to our room.  well, settled in as in quick change of clothes in-between contractions and finding out that philan was definitely in “active labor” with a bulging placenta and at 7 cm.  time to have a baby.  less than 30 minutes after we got settled in, dr copley came in and introduced himself.  he reminded me of drew carey, but without the humor.  he was asking if we had any questions, if philan wanted any pain meds (she was at a pain level of 2 according to her…), an epidural, pitocin, etc. to which she refuse all of course.  and as he turned to walk out, i caught philan’s eye and she just shook her head.  i had to ask.  hey doc, do you think i can deliver the baby, i did the last two…

about 15 minutes later, the doc returned and broke the water.  he nicely told us that he would be back in about 30 minutes and we’d be having the baby.  it was about 8:52 pm.  i politely told him that we would be having this baby a lot sooner, my guess was 9:06 pm.  he wasn’t out of the room 2 minutes and philan had another contraction and she squeezed my and and said “i’m ready to push.”  so our new doc came back in, told me to grab a gown, and said it was time to have a baby.  philan is such a trooper and i love her to death.  i know there’s a part of her that wanted me to hold her hand.  to stand by her head and be supportive while she brought our baby into the world, but she also knew how much it would mean to me to get to deliver our last child.  so she gave me the green light, i told her i love her, and gave her the calming kiss on the forehead.  and then another one on the lips.  did i mention yet how much i love her?

the doc comes in, and gives me the go-ahead.  as long as everything goes good, i’d get to deliver another baby once again.  and every thing went perfect.  at 9:05 pm (only 15 seconds shy of 9:06), philan gave us two big pushes, and our little baby came into the world.  i held her before anyone else in the world and then, just like a dream, time stopped.  the world stopped spinning as i looked down in absolute amazement.  our little baby, in my hands, letting out her first cry.  i have that image burned into my memory, her perfect little body, all purple and slimy.  and philan sat up (seriously, she did, not even a second after she gave birth), and looked down and said three simple words that i had been waiting to hear, “it’s a girl.”  i put her up on philan’s body and just stood back for a second and soaked it all in.  doc interrupted by saying, grab your camera.  i had forgotten that i was a photographer.  i had forgotten all of the craziness that led up to today.  all i knew, is that again, i was blessed with an amazing baby.  and to top it all off, this time, i got my little girl.

cashin & brig were justing finishing up their chicken nuggets in the lobby with grandma and grandpa.  my dad came up to tell us that they were going to take the boys home and to give me the keys.  after all, we had only been there just over an hour, there were a few hours before anything was going to happen.  so i stepped into the hallway, opened my arms, and said, “we’ve got a little girl.”  his mouth dropped, “already?”  that was it, i lost it, i cried like a baby in the arms of a man who has daughters of his own, he knew exactly how i was feeling.  he returned to the lobby to have the boys come up to “say goodnight” and when they walked in, we had a big surprise.  cashin had the sister he was wanting.  his mouth wide open with a huge smile, while little brig just stared and took it all in.  they both touched her for the first time with such care and compassion.  it was like they totally understood exactly what was going on, and in their own little 4-year-old and 2-year-old way, they did.

philan felt great.  she was out of bed 25 minutes after she gave birth to go to the bathroom, the nurse followed her in.  i laughed under my breath when the nurse came out of the bathroom 10 seconds after she went in and looked at the other nurses in the room “she’s fine, she says she feels great, and she doesn’t even need me in there, this woman is amazing.”  yes she is.  when she jumped back into bed, she said, “i don’t even feel like i just had a baby.  this was the easiest one yet.”

would we have it any other way?  absolutely not.  it was totally unexpected, but at the same time, totally expected.  it was perfect.  that is the story.  i love my wife.  i love my kids.  i love my life.  so here is our little baby girl.  born on december 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm, at sherman hospital, elgin, illinois, weighing in at 8 pounds 4 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long… enjoy.

oh… and her name… freya noëlle tokarz

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