The Birth of Maeve Cecilia

 

The Birth of Maeve Cecilia | For Want of WonderI think this may be my briefest birth story yet. Lucy’s was certainly short (shockingly so, for a firstborn), and then Magdalena’s dragged on and on. “Number 3 is a curve-ball!” was what I heard from everyone, and it was. Oh was it, ever.

My due date was February 16th. I had had no real signs of labor up until this day despite feeling so done for several weeks. I had a midwife and chiropractor appointment and everything looked fine. I guess after Lena I just resigned myself to no more early births, and so, this time, I was a lot less anxious to get the baby out. Also, let’s talk about how much easier babies are inside the womb than out. Exactly.

The next weekend rolled around and both Tom and I were just really hoping the baby would come before the start of another week. I was definitely nervous about the possibility of going into labor while he was at work and having to coordinate getting the girls taken care of and all that. Saturday afternoon was really mild, so we went on a nice, uphill walk around our neighborhood, scored some curbside furniture, and observed in passing that there was a full moon.

I woke around 1:30 in the morning on Sunday with what I could finally call a real contraction. It hurt. So that was exciting. I timed contractions on and off for about 3 hours and then fell back asleep for probably another 2 hours. Both girls woke up super early, around 6, and I got them up because I figured we needed to get things together and get going anyway. The contractions were coming regularly, but still at about 9-10 minutes apart and manageable. For some reason, I thought it would be a great idea to eat three eggs “for protein” and…yeah. Never doing that again in labor.

I took a shower while Tom got the girls ready, and we had everything packed and loaded by about 8 when we left for my parents to drop off the girls. Right as we were leaving I called the midwife to let her know I was in labor and that contractions were now about 7-8 minutes apart. She said I probably was worried that this labor would go fast like Lucy, but that it could still take awhile, so she told me to just call her when we got to my parents.

We got there around 8:25 and the girls were excited to be at their favorite place on earth. We switched cars with my parents, leaving them ours with the girls’ car seats. I went upstairs to labor for a bit, thinking I had some time to relax. Afer just a few contractions up there, I realized they were both more intense and suddenly WAY closer together, like 3 minutes max. It was as if, now that the girls were taken care of, my body was all, “It’s GO TIME!!!” and tripled its efforts, in a matter of minutes. We called the midwife and updated her, and she said it would take her an hour to get there from DC, and asked if she had time to shower and eat, or if she should just leave now. I SHOULD have told her, “LEAVE NOW!” because in the back of my mind I knew we didn’t have much time, but in the front of my mind I guess I wanted to appear calm and collected and not freak myself out, so I was all, “Ohhh hahaha, yes, go take your shower and eat! I’ll be fine!” This was now about 8:48 and she said she’d meet us at the birth center at 10 am.

Literally minutes after hanging up with her, contractions started becoming pretty awful, about 2 min apart, and I was basically hanging onto Tom for dear life. I made him call the midwife back and he told her we were actually going to head to the birth center now so I wouldn’t have to be in the car in transition. Well, first of all, I think now I already was in transition (or at least the early stage of it), and secondly, the birth center was locked up because it was Sunday morning, so there wasn’t much waiting for me after the car ride. Again, should have screamed, “LEAVE NOW!” and at the same time just stayed put right where I was in one of my parents’ guest rooms.

But of course, a practically-in-transition laboring woman cannot be expected to think clearly. In fact, I kept wishing that someone else could make all these decisions for me. I hated being asked, “What do you think? What do you want to do?” I wanted to get the baby OUT, and nothing else. All the in-betweens were too stressful for me to dwell on, as the contractions were pretty all-consuming in and of themselves.

We got into my younger brother’s borrowed car and headed to the birth center, which is about 15 minutes from my parents. As I had expected, I was now in full-on transition, with contractions coming one on top of the other, while I was curled in the backseat of a little Toyota Corolla. It was just as miserable as it sounds and just as miserable as the last time I did it. I just kept telling myself that the drive was literally 1/4 as long as it had been with Lucy so I could do it.

Well, we pulled up to the birth center at 9:30 and of course no one was there. Tom asked if I wanted to walk around, and I got out of the car, but my ill-fated breakfast came back to haunt me when I stood up. I was adamant about throwing up in a bag and not directly on the pavement (dignity, people!). Sadly, the bag turned out to have a hole in the bottom and it all ended up there anyway, which I was upset about. I can only say that priorities become a little wacky while in transition.

At that point, I really couldn’t deny to myself any longer that it was time, and I really needed to push this baby out. Yes, we were in an abandoned parking lot, yes, the only place was the backseat of the car, and yes, we only had one ratty bath towel and a God-sent roll of paper towels in the trunk of the Corolla, but by golly, that baby was coming! Tom called the midwife to apprise her of this lovely turn of events, and we put her on speaker phone so she could interpret my various moans and screams (she was scarily accurate!). She also used her other phone to call one of the student midwives who lives a few minutes away from the birth center to come.

So we made do, I, infinitely grateful that the technology park was deserted on a Sunday morning, and Tom, super cool and calm. I mean really, not at all flustered. Don’t know how he managed that, but it was so necessary. I was, well, not the most calm, but that’s par for the course by the time I get to pushing anyway. At some point, probably about 4 or 5 pushes in, the student midwife got there. She didn’t have a key to the birth center, but it’s not like I could have moved anyway at that point. She came over, pulling on some gloves, and announced that the head was there! I think maybe Tom got into the front seat then so he could still talk to me, but I don’t really remember. There was the Ring of Fire, which somehow surprises me with its apt nomenclature every time, and then the head was out. The midwife told me to stop pushing, and said something about the cord. Then another couple pushes and she was out! Baby! In the backseat of my little brother’s car!

The midwife unwrapped the cord, which was wrapped around twice (and I’m really glad she got there and Tom didn’t have to deal with that), and handed the baby up to me as I sat up from hands and knees. I noticed right away that she had the same fuzzy red hair that Lucy had. I should also add here that while it was February 21st, it was unseasonably mild, and we had the car turned off, and obviously the doors were wide open, otherwise there wouldn’t have been any room for Tom and the midwife to stand. So right after the baby was out, the midwife had Tom turn on the car and crank the heat, since even 50-degree weather outdoors isn’t exactly ideal for a freshly born babe.

I think a few minutes later, maybe 5 or 6, the head midwife arrived, right on the heels of one of the birth center office staff, who also lives close and had keys to unlock the center. We got a wheelchair out to the car and a lot of blankets, and somehow I was able to crawl out of the backseat while holding Maeve, who by the way, was still attached to the umbilical cord. Once we got inside, things slowed down a bit. Thankfully! We got more dried off and got the baby’s vitals, and she started rooting around to nurse pretty much as soon as she was on my chest. She was a great little nurser right from the start. Placenta, cord cut, all that jazz. Then, the midwives (bless their hearts) brought us a huge breakfast of eggs (I did not touch those obviously), bacon, bagels, donuts, and fruit. They put the little fake fireplace on and then let us be alone to rest, eat, nurse, snuggle, watch Fr. Scalia’s funeral homily for his dad (so.good.), and generally recover from our car-birth experience. Everything was going great, so we were able to leave the birth center at 3:30 PM and head over to my parents’ so Maeve (in a newborn coma) could meet her big sisters. (Also, those midwives got the backseat of my bro’s car immaculate, and I’m pretty sure he drove his friends around in it the very next day. Not sure he notified them of its alternate use beforehand ;))

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Already a holy little gal

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So excited but so confused. THIS is Maeve? What about that big ol’ belly on Mommy?

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Papa and his 3 girls, one of whom isn’t into the precious moment

Obviously, Maeve’s swift, dramatic, entrance and rather unexpected place of birth weren’t what I was imagining in my ideal birth plan. I knew it could be fast (like Lucy) or it could drag on (like Lena’s), but I didn’t think it was going to progress so incredibly fast all of the sudden. Honestly, if Lucy hadn’t been born on a Thursday afternoon, she most likely would have been a car birth as well, since I was in the exact same stage of labor by the time we arrived at the birth center as I was with Maeve. But thankfully this situation happened with the third baby and not the first. I can’t imagine how horrified/terrified I would have been (not to mention my poor husband). As it was, we both knew pretty much exactly what to expect from a normal pushing and birth situation, and we did what we had to do. In hindsight, I immediately saw all the times I should have followed my gut more closely, and if I’d done so, probably could have avoided the car-birth. But all was well, and it was quite the experience. The sweet student midwife also told me a little while after the birth that in her native country (Venezuela), she was a practicing OB-GYN so she had delivered hundreds of babies, AND she said she had also delivered numerous car births! She said it was really common there as well as in Colombia where she worked for awhile. So that definitely helped ease my mind, not that I was really worried. But still, she was the perfect person to come catch my baby in a car!

And yes, I think I can safely say that out of necessity if nothing else, we will probably have home births in the future. If the backseat of a tiny four-door Corolla is big enough, then I think our house will do just fine.

Thawing Out, Stockpiling, and Getting Organized for Baby! (SQT)

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After an epic trip to BJs on Monday, where we discovered that a plow had dug out a lane and a half and zero parking spaces, and almost two hours and two cart-loads of groceries later, we are more or less ready and stocked up for the next month or so and the arrival of baby. It looks like the weather for the next two weeks is going to be a bit warmer and less dramatic, though the actual due date is the only one calling for the possibility of snow. Go figure. I’m hoping we’ll go just slightly earlier than DD, though. Lucy was born at just shy of 38 weeks, which is tomorrow for me so we’ll see what happens!

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For my birthday, Tom got me this e-course to help us both organize and streamline our mornings, since that time of day seems to be the most intense/chaotic. Neither one of us is a morning person and struggles with the whole waking up process while both offspring have so many needs (all of which seem to be direly urgent) immediately upon waking.

 

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An atypical morning moment!

 

So it’s been a helpful tool for us to figure out what we can do the night before, or just ahead of time, in general, to make it less crazy, and prioritize important tasks. For me, that’s basically get the girls fed (which is always such a long and often tear-filled process), hopefully, get me fed and eventually caffeinated mid-morning, and get the girls changed and dressed. Since our mornings revolve around food, I’ve been attempting to make pre-made breakfasts that take a really short amount of time to actually toss at the ravenous beasts serve in the mornings:

Now we’ll just see what happens when we throw a little newborn nursling into the mix! Either way, getting more intentional and organized can’t hurt.

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Part of getting ourselves more organized and on the same page has been using a handy little list-making app called Todoist. The free version is awesome and allows Tom and me to share chore lists, shopping lists, home projects, and various and sundry little things we need to get done. I like that you can make everyday tasks recurring and it feels really good to be able to swipe away the tasks as you complete them, even if you are doing a variation of the same dang things every day. It also eliminates the need to remind/nag each other to do certain things around the house, since you can assign tasks to each other and the app reminds for you!  Highly recommend if you are list-loving choleric.

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We just finished Poldark and enjoyed it, despite its tendency to the unbelievable and dramatic plot-lines. But the scenery was stunning and the acting and dialogue pretty good. What can we binge on next? I need some ideas for the stuck-on-the-couch/bed and up-at-crazy-hours postpartum phase!

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Experience is the best teacher ever, especially when it comes to birth, breastfeeding, and what stuff I really need postpartum. I still cringe a little inside when I remember how terrible breastfeeding Lucy was and how ill-prepared we were for just everything.  

My plan this time is to stay in bed for a week while Tom is off, so that when he goes back I’ll be as rested and recovered as possible. This will be very, very hard for me as I hate sitting still and letting people take care of me, and will want to “just” throw in a load of laundry or help with “little things” here and there. All I am letting myself do is nurse, drink copious fluids, read/watch Netflix, change diapers, and… at least, I can fold all the clothes sitting in bed! To this end, we’re about to fill all the landfills as we only eat off of paper/plastic, our floors might not get swept or vacuumed, and the clutter might get overwhelming. But, at least, we’re mentally and (mostly) physically prepared this time, so it’s gonna be ok! (This article, while a little off the crunchy deep-end even for me, made some great points and suggestions).

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Links!

“12 Things St. Zelie Martin Taught Me About Sainthood as a Mother”

My sister-in-law/mom-in-the-trenches with me sent me this great article highlighting St. Zelie Martin’s path to sainthood through her motherhood. I guarantee you it will make you breathe a sigh of relief as you realize saints had crazy days and toddlers who threw themselves on the floor and screamed repeatedly.

Farmer Boy and the Value of Handing Down Stories

S0 important for us to hear about the past and how our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, grew up! My Nonna will tell you stories of her childhood in Italy and her early years as an immigrant mom in the US until she’s blue in the face. It’s so good. We recently read an interview with a woman who’s almost 100, who basically came to our neighborhood when it was first built in the 1940s. My word, it was fascinating to read about how very, very different life was such a short time ago and how the neighborhood has changed immensely! I wish they’d bring back the neighborhood groceries, the milk-man, and the drive-in movie theatre just down the street!! Anyway, the collective memory is important to preserve. I would have known nothing of our local history before reading her interview.

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Photos!

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With her beloved paci, may it rest in peace. She bit the top of the nipple clean off. She’s now borrowing the Wubbanub set aside for the baby until we can get to Target. Her love for paci is a force to be reckoned with.

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Snow day fun with all the cousins (so far!)

 

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Unintentional Montessori win. She spent a good 25 minutes scrubbing down her little table and chairs to get the stamp-pad ink off, and loved it so much that I had her get all the coffee splatters off the cabinets. Next up, tile grout.

Linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes!

 

Tis the Season!

Merry Christmas! We’ve had a really cozy and relaxed past 2 weeks here, which was sorely needed, since Tom’s last week of school involved mostly 16 hour work days. So it’s been a good thing he gets a long break as the girls were beginning to wonder if they had a dad anymore (Lena had sweet, heartbreaking episodes every night around 5, when she would point at the door asking, “Daddy? Daddy???”).  IMG_0154

I’ve been mostly catching up on sleep and getting super spoiled with Tom home and doing lots of the daily stuff/child-wrangling so I don’t have to.

It’s also been really fun to have our first family Christmas here, complete with a real tree (for the first time) which obviously only has decorations on the upper third, and is consistently ringed by a thick blanket of pine needles, compliments of two enthusiastic branch-shakers.

 

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Our weather has been absolutely wonky– almost 2 straight weeks of rain and wetness, with Christmas Eve and Day presenting themselves as sticky, humid, 70 degree days. Still had to dress the girls in their winter Christmas dresses, and Tom tried to get some decent shots of them before we headed to 5:00 Christmas Eve mass.

We went to our old parish, where we got married and Lucy was baptized and it was beautiful…and our toddlers were actually quieter than the 20-something guys behind us. We then found one of the very few restaurants open on Christmas Eve to finish up our night.

Christmas morning was slow and relaxed, thankfully, and our presents only took about 20 minutes which left us plenty of time for mimosas, bacon, and cinnamon rolls. Lucy claimed everything for herself (of course) and Lena mostly enjoyed trying to unwrap the paper and climb into the doll cradle that used to be mine, dug out of my parents’ attic for Christmas. The real party went down at my parents’ later that day, where it was all food, people, kids, and flying wrapping paper as the little ones opened enormous piles of gifts. A merry day, indeed!

On the baby front, I’m at 34 weeks now and tis the season for heating pads, restless nights, jabbing baby limbs, and me feeling like an arthritic old lady. I don’t feel like I’ll make it to 40 weeks most days, but the baby might not necessarily feel that way, so we’ll see. Part of me wants an earlier delivery, while the other half of me realizes the baby inside is way easier than outside.

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My counter spread with everything to make a few slow cooker freezer meals so we don’t starve in the first couple weeks postpartum. It was a good use of a couple kid-free hours!

And, since I am now finishing this about 5 days after starting it, Happy New Year to you all! We can’t wait to see what 2016 brings us (other than a brand new family member!)!

Currently, Vol. 7

Listening:

To the rare sound of silence as both girls are simultaneously napping. Rare, as of the last week or so. You see, our dear resident 2.5 year old has been throwing some crazy curve-balls into her normally completely predictable and beautiful napping routine. This is the baby who never napped, then finally learned to sleep on her own at about a year, and from then on took about 2 two-hour naps daily until 16 months, after which time she has slept nearly 3 hours every afternoon, not just willingly but joyfully, often requesting nap time.

Until last Sunday. In the last 7 days, she took 3 total naps. Ensue hand-wringing, apocalypse-is-nigh texts to Tom every sleepless afternoon, and a general feeling that my world was crashing down. It’s safe to say my sanity rests heavily on my children’s sleep patterns.

I guess that all of the sudden she’s just an older toddler, and for some reason, her normal 12:45- 3:45 nap time of bliss isn’t working anymore (sob). The extreme and sudden sleep loss made her exceedingly peevish the last week, which meant a vicious cycle of wanting to “sleep” around 10:30 am (really just an excuse to liaison with her beloved paci [only allowed in her bed] while she fooled around in her room), scream and whine and refuse lunch, sort of agree to lay down around 1, and then never fall asleep. The handful of times she has napped, it has been much later than her previous naptime, so I’m trying to really keep her occupied with playing and activities until about 1:45 so she won’t fight her nap for hours. All I know is, she’s way too young to drop a nap altogether, and as previously mentioned, my sanity depends on it.

Eating:

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Lucy’s undying love for chicken soup, documented in this photo she asked me to take.

Lots of soups. I make a chicken soup about every other week, which both girls (but especially Lucy) really, really love. Then I use the broth to make another soup, a risotto, or whatever.

I made this Homemade Instant Noodle Bowl for lunch (with rice) and it was awesome. We also make this frequently and this too (add cheddar cheese!).

I’d like to start making more of our snacks as opposed to buying them but…y’know. Ideal vs. reality and all that.

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We did finally bake the requisite fall pumpkin muffins

We did finally bake the requisite fall pumpkin muffins

Planning:

September and October have officially been the craziest, busiest months for us, with every weekend booked. That is typical I guess, with the new school year for Tom and the thousands of extra tasks it entails for him (multiple back-to-school nights, tons of parent meetings, tons of student advisory meetings, first progress reports and the inevitable insane parent fall-out…ahem…concern, Open House, etc). Glad to be done with these months. Also glad to see a much emptier November calendar so far.

But we still try to sneak in small family "adventures" and outings, like this pre-grocery shopping visit to the newly opened gluten-free bakery down the street.

But we still try to sneak in small family “adventures” and outings, like this pre-grocery shopping visit to the newly opened gluten-free bakery down the street.

Gestating:

A 24 week baby. About to buy this. Thinking about investing time in doing yoga stretches. Avoiding bending over as much as possible, which isn’t really realistic with two toddlers who leave a trail of clutter behind them at all times.  Finding that napping is pretty much never an option since they girls now are back on opposite sleeping schedules for the most part and I just can’t do a 15 minute nap (it would take me at least that long to even fall asleep). Feeling lots of kicks and rolls and the occasional weird elbow scraping (it is such a weird feeling. And uncomfortable. Lena was the queen of doing that in utero).

Clicking:

Before You Even Ask from Barista Mommy. Couldn’t have said it better!

And a sweet gum ad (I know, but just watch), which reminded me I’m pregnant, as it made me tear up.

And that’s all I’ve got time for, since it’s now two days after I started this, and Lena is waking up from her nap. I’ll leave you with a very mild example of Lena’s new favorite skill: self-feeding-whether-you-like-it-or-not-Mom!

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Babymooning Like Pros

We snuck away last weekend for a little 24 hour babymoon. If you can, you should really always try to do a little getaway without kids, before the next is born. It’s so refreshing to get ready in the morning without worrying about diapers and strapping little shoes. It’s also nice to drive around (or even get lost) without risking the wrath of car-seat-bound toddlers. We’re now pros at babymooning. The first time was a 2-day whirlwind NYC trip, from which we returned to no kids, so the whole idea is laughable, now. The second time was a countryside wine/B&B escape, pretty much the epitome of relaxation.

For this auspicious third baby, we chose to explore Baltimore, which is only about an hour away, and filled with numerous free places and activities. We were planning to come home late and spend the night at home, but then my sister-in-law’s very generous parents gave us a free hotel night on their points. Soooo nice. And in case you ever find yourself in Charm City, here’s what we did in roughly 24 hours:

  • We intended to spend about 2 hours in the Walters Art Museum, which has one of the biggest Ancient artifacts exhibit in the country, BUT it was closed just for that day for a gala set-up. Of course. We were pretty bummed, but I guess it gave us more time to see other things slowly. So we visited the first Cathedral in America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is filled with early Catholic American historical significance. And it was beautifully remodeled on its 200th anniversary a few years ago.

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  • Explored the downtown area of Baltimore, where the annual half/full marathon was going on, the very one I ran five years ago. I was definitely glad to be on the other side of the sidewalk, especially since just walking for long periods made my round ligaments ache like craaaaazy. We did walk about 8 miles over the course of the day to my credit, which is about 7 miles more than my daily quota.
  • Got lunch at Lexington Market, which was interesting, crowded, and infernally hot. Tom kept grabbing my arm, because he was afraid I was going to get mugged or something. Once we got out and stopped sweating, we ate gyros (made by Koreans), and watched the runners go by. The people of Baltimore sure know how to encourage a runner (I loved having them cheer us on when I ran, and pretty much was equally entertained watching them this time around). Then we got some really delicious and expensive lattes at Dooby’s, where I rested my ligaments for a while, and we steeped in the hipster ambience.

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  • Tried to park near Edgar Allan Poe’s grave site, but it was a zoo. Ended up driving around the same three blocks, three times, over 45 minutes. We’re really good at directions. We both laughed at how much that would’ve bothered us while we were dating/engaged, but how now it was no biggie at all, since there were no screaming banshees sweet girls in the car.
  • Finally drove down to Little Italy, where we got pretty amazing “chip n dip” cannoli at the famed Vaccaro’s pastry cafe. It’s basically a container of broken cannoli shells and a big scoop of cannoli filling to dip them into. Perfect afternoon snack, worth the long wait in line.
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Image via vacarrospastry.com

  • Lazed around the hotel room and rested the ole ligaments some more.
  • Walked around the beautiful Inner Harbor and historic Fell’s Point before our dinner at Mezze Cafe, where we ordered far too many tapas plates. I wish we had come to Fell’s Point earlier in the day (before sunset) so we could’ve had more time to explore. The cobblestone streets and historic town homes were gorgeous.

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And then collapsed early in the huge bed to watch some Harry Potter and read from our current read-aloud. We finished up our babymoon the next morning with perfectly light and chewy Belgian waffles at Miss Shirley’s and Mass in Little Italy. Then sped off to pick up our little munchkins from my parents’, where we found that they hadn’t missed us for one second and would rather stay with Nana and Papa, thank you very much.

And that’s that– an amazing 24 hours of good food, uninterrupted conversation, and more exercise than I’ll get the rest of the pregnancy (kidding! Maybe…)

Currently, Vol. 6

Pounding this out as quick as I can, since the sun has come out for the first time in a week, and I’ve got some restless natives on my hands!

01. Celebrating: 

We found out the gender of the new baby on Saturday! And also bestowed a name upon him/her, so that Lucy’s mind can be put to rest. It was fun to bring home cake pops of the appropriate color to surprise the girls and Tom (who sadly had to stay home with them, and thus miss the gender-reveal sono for the first time). If you want to know, just shoot me an email! It’ll be mum on the blog for all the relatives who want to be surprised!

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Tom tries to decipher the gender based on the picture alone…hence the confusion…

We also had a great little Michaelmas feast last week, with a roast chicken, whiskey-glazed carrots, and a dragon cake! Followed two days later by a French-ish celebration for St. Therese (crepes with sausage, spinach, cream cheese and Rosé for the adults). Lots of great October feast days to celebrate!

02. Watching:

Arthur and George on PBS. If you don’t necessarily love mystery (ahem) but you do love literary characters in movies with a dash of mystery thrown in, this will be up your alley. It’s about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his foray into real-life detective work.

Downtown Abbey: Final Season! I can’t wait to see how they wrap up the show. Perhaps I will go back to Season 1 (the best, best, best) during the long winter/post-partum phase of life.

I’ve also been craving a complete re-watch of Harry Potter from the beginning. There’s something very autumnal about the movies, and pumpkin pasties+butterbeer whilst watching curled on the couch in blankets sounds delightful.

03. Reading:

Ida Elisabeth by Sigrid Undset. Obscure book by the famed novelist. I just started it for my book club, and already love it. That woman could write! It’s also her only novel NOT set in the medieval period (it takes place in the 1930s) which is different and interesting.

04. Wearing:

Well, apparently the hurricane for us meant that we skipped the normal fall temperatures and went straight to winter last week. We’ve been wearing long-sleeves, sweaters, slippers, fuzzy footed jammies (well, the girls) and rain coats.

Since I’m now dressing me plus the bump, I’m loving these maternity jeans from Gap (which actually came in petite! Glory! And were on super sale), some awesome leggings from my last Stitch Fix (again, actually short enough for me), and lots of tunics and ruched tees.

(We’ve also had to turn the heat on, which seems absurd for the first few days of October, but it has been chilly...)

05. Praying for:

Our little cousin Liam is undergoing radiation right now. Keep him in your prayers! The great and wonderful news that I forgot to share last month, is that his tumor is completely gone now! We are so thankful and continue to pray for him!

06. Clicking:

I was so excited to see this article and will definitely be bringing it with me to my (upcoming, not-yet-scheduled, why-is-October-so-crazy) hair appointment!

This is from last month, but is such a great article, about the difficult and trying side of practicing NFP when it involves prolonged abstinence. I’m really glad this aspect of NFP is getting some attention! Everyone who is faithfully committed to practicing NFP would love to have a little more support and less sugar-coating, I think.

I’m re-reading this article by a Jewish Rabbi, the transcript of a talk he gave last year at the marriage colloquium in Rome.

07. Planning for:

Much like September, October is shaping up to be an insanely busy month, with every weekend booked: birthday parties, a babymoon(!), dinner dates, and a wedding! We were really hoping to take the girls to a pumpkin patch and apple picking, but I’m not sure when we’ll fit that in, especially if the weather keeps up the chill and rain. Here’s hoping for sunnier fall days!

Linking up with Kelly for her Link-toberfest! Here’s the link to my very first quick takes post, from July 2013 while we were in Rome!

Pregnancy Q&A’s

Whew. Well now that this is finally out there on the internets…I can finally talk about it!

For Want of Wonder

(I’d also like to give props to our mossy, moldy, uneven bricks for lending some artsy photo cred to this shot…)

This feels like the longest time to hold back the news from the internet, since we have known from the very, very beginning (unlike, ahem, with Magdalena), but man it’s hard to think of creative ways to announce your third pregnancy in three years.

And every single time I tried to take a selfie with the girls in it for something sisterly and sibling-ish, it just…never worked:

For Want of Wonder

Outtake 1

For Want of Wonder

…and 2…

For Want of Wonder

…and you get the idea.

It’s great to see all the congratulations from everyone, and I so appreciate all of the good wishes! Still, inquiring minds want to know, so I’m going to preemptively answer all the questions you may have (many of which I’ve already gotten in real life):

Was this planned? Are you surprised?

As planned as these things can be! And no. Not surprised in the least.

How far apart are Lena and the baby going to be?

19 months, pretty much exactly. (Lucy and Lena are 15 months apart).

Don’t you hope it’s a boy?

Yeah, sure, if just to use some of the awesome male names we’ve accrued over the years! And out of curiosity as to what our boys will look like. But if not, we know we at least make pretty dang cute little girls!

Are you finding out the sex?

Yep, we are. We are, thus far, just finder-outers. I keep saying, “When we have both girls and boy(s)…” but I think in reality I just really like knowing.  It helps my overly-logical personality connect to the baby as more of a person and less of a project. I like the sense of order and control (knowing we have the right color and type of clothing, blankets, etc), and narrowing down and trying out the names. And this time around, Lucy desperately wants to know, “What’s the baby named??” so we will most likely name him or her so that Lucy (and Lena) can really get used to this new little person who’ll be joining the family.

Are you ready?

Ha, well, let’s see. Physically, sort of.  (If it’s a boy, he doesn’t have a stitch of gender-appropriate clothing, and he will probably be swaddled in floral and heart-printed blankets. Also, we’re going to need a new place for the baby to sleep since Magdalena effectively broke our co-sleeper last year).

Mentally, are you ever? Lucy will be about to turn 3, and Lena will be just over 1.5, so I’m sure it will be crazy town for several months (or years). My potty-training efforts with Lucy are s l o w going, so I am resigning myself to the three-in-diapers fate for a while. And cloth at that, after the first month.

But, the girls are starting to sort of play together in less aggressive ways, and I’m confident that Lena will have amassed a vocabulary beyond her current 10 words by then, so perhaps her screaming quota will go way down? I’m also really hoping that Lucy will finally decide to drink milk from a sippy cup or regular cup so that we can get rid of her bottles (ironically, she’s the one with the paci obsession and drinking milk from a bottle, neither of which her younger sister does). I’m not even going to attempt to break her of the paci habit, since she really loves it to unwind/fall asleep, and she knows she is only allowed to use it in her room.

Really though, those things are kind of not huge deals so I figure we’ll take everything as it comes, and pray for a lot of grace.

 

Are you tired?

Very. Thankfully Lena started sleeping through the night (with forced night-weaning. Had to do it.) when I was about 8 weeks along and at the worst part of the 1st trimester, so that’s helped. I’m also the smallest I’ve been in any pregnancy so if nothing else that is testimony to the energy I burn chasing toddlers and eating on the fly. As usual, not really working out (though I keep resolving to!) and eating snacks every 2-3 hours, and trying hard to remember my prenatal vitamin more than once/week. So I’m aiming to be better at getting to bed at a decent time, and if someone can have a heart-to-heart with Lena about waking up after the sun’s risen and/or after 7:00 AM, that’d be great.

All things considered, we’re very blessed and excited. Also, tiny baby kicks just never get old!

 

 

The Birth of Magdalena Clare

I realized that I hadn’t written this story out yet, so I figured I should do so before the details become hazier. I’m doing better than with Lucy’s though, which I didn’t write until she was about publish until she was one, so I’m improving. If birth stories aren’t your thing, then you can leave now, no hard feelings!

Magdalena's Birth Story

Unlike Lucy’s birth, Magdalena was neither fast, nor early, nor surprising. Add to that the fact that we didn’t have a truly accurate due date, so by the time I hit 37 weeks (according to the sonogram), I thought we were closing in on go time. 37 weeks rolled by, 38, and then 39. I was incredulous. Aren’t all subsequent births supposed to be earlier and faster and easier? Wait, doesn’t the stork just drop them off at that point?

Anyway, I was a little peeved and had to assume that a) my due date was off  and b) this baby was going to be full term plus some and/or c) I would be pregnant forever. I did all the things pregnant ladies are advised to when they want to bring on labor and…nothing. I did have lots of “false” labor, though. That was a lovely experience that entailed being awoken at 3 or 4 AM with contractions that felt more intense than Braxton-Hicks, and timing them up to 7 minutes apart for about 2 hours, only to have them die away the moment I bit into a cracker or sipped some water. So frustrating. So sleep depriving.

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Oh hey there, full term belly!

I had basically resigned myself when we hit 40 weeks. The midwives weren’t worried at all; everything was normal and great (except my attitude). I’d had two sonograms at 38ish weeks because I was still only measuring 34 weeks, but the baby was fine and the sonographer estimated she was a bit over 7 lbs.

40 weeks and 3 days! Taken 3 days before Lena was born.

40 weeks and 3 days! Taken 3 days before Lena was born.

On Sunday morning, July 13th, I woke up barely thinking, “Maybe today will be the day!” since I’d thought that too many mornings in a row to count. It was the World Cup final and we had plans to watch it at a friends’ house. Tom was also gearing up for his last week directing a computer summer camp at school. We went to 10:30 Mass as usual, and I was struck by the second reading:

“We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now.” (Romans 8:22)

Oh! Labor pains. Groaning. I can take a hint. Sure enough, as Mass progressed, I made a mental note that I was having mild contractions every 12 minutes or so. Nothing crazy, but they were enough to notice, and they were definitely coming regularly. We took it easy throughout the afternoon, and gradually the contractions were about 9 or so minutes apart, but still just moderate at best, and short. We didn’t go to our friends’ since we weren’t really sure what would happen; for all I knew, I could suddenly go into hard labor and progress in the space of an hour (which was what I fully expected given my history). We watched the Cup from home, ate dinner, put Lucy to bed, and went on my last waddly walk around the neighborhood.

At this point, probably around 8:30 PM, the contractions were finally getting moderately intense and spaced more like 7 minutes apart, so we decided to relax for a bit and watch something. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was on, which was perfect. In the middle of watching, though, we suddenly remembered that we needed to clean and readjust the infant car seat, so we took a little break from HP and got that done. I ate almost an entire sleeve of Nutella filled cookies, milking every last minute out of the “pregnancy craving” excuse.

Finally around 11, we decided that things weren’t moving super quickly and we had better try to sleep. I was just flummoxed– why wasn’t this labor rushing at light-speed, as Lucy’s had? Why was it so normal? Should we call the midwives? Wait? What if it all the sudden speeded up? I tried to sleep, but kept getting up to go to the bathroom, check our birth center bags, work through a contraction, etc.. An hour later, I realized that the contractions were more intense, and about 4-5 minutes apart. I texted Kim, the midwife, and let her know what was happening. She said to try and sleep but keep her posted, since her drive to the birth center was an hour. Around 1:15 AM, I told her that they were continuing in intensity so she said she was leaving for the birth center, and we could leave within an hour or so, since my parents were only about 12-15 minutes away.

Poor Tom had just gotten into a deep sleep, and I had to rouse him and start getting our things in the car. We drove the blessedly empty and quiet streets and arrived at the birth center about 12 minutes later. It was so strange getting there in the middle of the night. It was also amazing to drive there while not in transition; I think I only had to breathe through a total of two or three contractions the whole ride. It was a million times better than the drive there for Lucy.

The birth center was dark and quiet when we arrived around 2:20 AM, but smelled like some lovely essential oil they had going in the waiting room. The birth assistant was in the office waiting for us, and she brought us back to our room since Kim was sleeping. Kim came out a few minutes later and asked if I wanted to be checked. I did, and she asked me to guess how dilated I was. I said 6, based on how long I’d been having contractions and all the millions of Braxtons I’d had. Shockingly, I was only a 3! She asked if I wanted my membranes stripped (which sounds really horrid, but honestly feels like nothing when you’re already contracting). Then everyone left us to rest in the large bed. Tom immediately fell asleep, and I was able to get a few 10 minute stretches in, working through the contractions every 3 minutes or so.

They came in and checked on me a few times, and by 3:45 AM, I really needed a change of pace. The bed was not working anymore. I asked to get into the tub, so they filled it up and I got in. Tom was sitting on the ball by the tub to try and help, but the poor guy kept nodding off so I made him get more sleep, since he really didn’t need to do much at that point. I was just sort of floating, half-sleeping/half-resting, between the every-intensifying contractions. I could tell at this point that things were moving right along, because a) I was wondering why on earth I needed to be going through this and b) was vocalizing pretty loudly during contractions. For some reason, that seems to be the best way for me to deal with the pain– it obviously doesn’t numb or lessen it like meds, but it definitely gives some release. Tom had come back to help me at this point, since he probably couldn’t sleep through my noisy coping mechanisms, and I told him he needed to get the midwives in because I wanted to push. My back was killing, so I figured it was time.

So I started pushing at 4:40 AM, staying on my hands and knees in the tub. I practically pulled Tom’s arm out of the socket as I was using his hand for support/leverage. But it was effective! The baby came out at 5:01 exactly, after about 20 minutes of pushing. Tom thought the pushing was harder or more painful for me than with Lucy, but I don’t really think so, and I was definitely more efficient the second time around. Being on hands and knees was also far easier for me. They helped me sit up, and handed up the baby, who wasn’t crying or anything, just kind of blinking in utter confusion. She was fat and squishy and had no vernix at all, since she was so well cooked. Tom finally got to cut the cord, since everything with this birth was so much slower and calmer.

We got out of the tub and dried off little Magdalena, who had finally squawked a few times. We took guesses on her weight, and I think I guessed something like 7 lb. 6 oz, but she was a whopping 7-14! I could not believe I’d pushed out a baby who was an entire pound heavier than her sister and yet it felt so much easier, and I didn’t tear at all (my biggest fear going into the second birth). Based on her size and the placenta, the midwives estimated that she was actually probably exactly 40 weeks, not the almost-41 weeks were given based on our first sono.

The baby kinda sorta nursed a little, but essentially passed out, and then so did Tom and I for about 3 hours straight (though we had thought to text/email family to let them know and Tom sent a few emails to his camp counselors to run things in his absence). We were pretty exhausted since we hadn’t really slept in 48 hours, and we couldn’t wait to get home. Magdalena got all her vitals/measurements, we got zero pictures except that grainy one below (bad second-timers!), she tried to nurse again, and then we packed up and went home around 11.

Getting measured!

Getting measured!

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Right after we got home.

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Lucy had just woken up from her morning nap when we got home, and was really confused about the baby in the car seat. We tried to get her to look at her and say something but she mostly stared blankly and stood still until we kind of pushed her forward to inspect the baby. She warmed up a few hours later, and of course by the next day, “BAY-by!” had been in her life forever and she showered her with “mahs,” by lovingly head-banging her every time she saw her.20140717-124929-46169044.jpg

And that was that. A textbook labor and birth that was actually more like a first than a second, which just went to show me that I should have no expectations, ever. I definitely have more compassion for women that go post-term and have long, drawn-out labors. And once again, I was so, so grateful for my midwives and our birth center. It was an ideal birth, so calm and quiet and dark in the room, and everyone’s presence was peaceful and non-intrusive. Tom was a real hero, helping and encouraging me even though we would both rather be sleeping.

Happy Birthday, Magdalena Clare! Can’t believe this was almost SEVEN months ago!!

Musings of a Crazy 9-Months-Pregnant Lady

I apologize for the long, long silence on here. We’ve spent the last week thinking that the baby would arrive. Iactually thought that baby would arrive before last week, so as you can imagine, I’m starting to get antsy/impatient/overwhelmed/despairing, etc.. Lucy Agnes just had to come two weeks early with very little warning, thereby setting an impossible standard for all future siblings to follow. And this one hasn’t. We also probably have the “official” due date wrong by about a week, but since I’d been following that thewhole time, I’m having a hard time switching my brain over. Either way, I’m definitely past term, and am either 39 weeks today, or 40 weeks on Tuesday, depending on the due date of choice. Ugh.

Forget those in-front-of-the-mirror bump pics. I'm too lazy, so here you go.

Forget those in-front-of-the-mirror bump pics. I’m too lazy, so here you go. 

I know, I know, most women go a full 40.5 to 41 or even 42, yes, yes, yes. BUT, the timing is just very precarious here. Tom had last week and this week off, and we really wanted baby to come early last week, so he would have time off to be home and help. The week after this, he has another week of camp to run, and then a little time off, and then is off to California for his brother’s wedding. And then he comes back and BAM, we’re moving. So… hmm. No control, that is what we have here in this situation. I’ve had at least 3 “false alarms” where I had contractions for a few hours, only to have them die away at the bite of a cracker or some other nonsense. That never happened with Lucy, she was all, “Oh, real contractions, water breaks, and here I am a few hours later!” so again, I’m trying to adjust to this very different experience.

On a less pessimistic note, we have been doing some fun things to fill the time we have at home before the craziness. We took Lucy to a little local zoo last Sunday, which she enjoyed (though the rocks on the path were maybe a bit more interesting than any of the live animals for her).

Bottle feeding baby goats and lambs

Bottle feeding baby goats and lambs

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In the Budgie aviary, feeding the little guys

In the Budgie aviary, feeding the little guys

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Lucy celebrated her Baptism day with a cookie cake, or “ke-ca cock” (I know. We tried to correct the pronunciation several times).

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We’ve kept up with the World Cup, and cheered on our national team up to the bitter end.

Cutest fan

We also went on an epic Ikea shopping trip yesterday and got so many things for the new house. Tom was duly overwhelmed by the maze/trap that Ikea is.

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And in general, we have been going on lots of long walks, splashing around in the baby pool, and trying valiantly not to think about labor and despair that it will never happen/happen when the timing is poor. This baby has his/her own timing, that is for certain!

 

 

Back from the Dead!

Well, after the previous cheery post about recovering from illness without OTC meds, I proceeded to come down with the worst sinus infection of my life. Let’s just say pregnancy has a way of magnifying even normal illnesses, and draaaagging them out, because the ole immune system is non-existent. All the garlic, cod liver oil, vitamin C/D/A, etc all go…to the baby! So I was miserable for another entire week, popping many a Tylenol and then eventually a prescription steroid nasal spray. I made it through, and still managed not to need antibiotics, though I was tempted. Very tempted. I just know it would’ve made the whole lowered immune system thing much worse in the end.

Also, as I began to emerge from the foggy cave filled with endless tissues (I cannot tell you HOW MANY BOXES I went through) and pounding headaches/toothaches, the weather became so amazing. We had a great day last Saturday visiting the family farm of one of Tom’s students. The grandparents own an amazing 90 acre plot with not one, but two homes on it, several ponds, a huge pool, and just endless fun for kids, or babies who think they’re one of the big kids. Lucy had a blast between the two dogs, the gravel driveway, and the sopping wet pool toys (though she strongly refused to go in), and her first ice cream popsicle. I took zero pictures, because if I wasn’t frantically running after Miss I-Don’t-Care-If-I-Never-See-You-Again, I was furiously blowing my nose. But it was gorgeous and sunny and fun. And on the way home, we got this double stroller!

 

It was $50, and the family used it once. In Disneyland. It’s normally $170 new, soooo we hit the jackpot. Thank you, Craigslist.

In other exciting news, we are officially done house hunting!! Praise the Lord. And thank you for all the prayers. We are closing on a house today and will move into it at the beginning of August. At which point we will have TWO children. It has just recently, as in the last two days, hit us that this baby could be born within 3 weeks. Now, I’m not quite sure, because I’m measuring two weeks behind, but that may just mean baby’s smaller. Also, baby is stubbornly stuck in the right posterior position, which means the body is facing outwards instead of towards my back. That explains why I feel the strangest, most surprising/weird movements in there, and not kicks. I’m doing whatever I can to get the child to turn like a corkscrew, because posterior labors are labors from hell, and are more likely to end in interventions. Turn, baby!

And now some photographic evidence of the big sister herself, whose new favorite word is no, pronounced, “naw-oh!” in perfect whiny pitch. Heaven help us.

The most patriotic of babies

The most patriotic of babies

Filling up the pool

Filling up the pool

Step 1: Scream "naw-oh!!" as parents try to put you in pool Step 2: Acquiesce to sit on step of pool, only after Papa has filled with .25 inches of warm tap water Step 3: Realize water is fun. Proceed to get in, splash, and play for next 1.5 hours.

Step 1: Scream “naw-oh!!” as parents try to put you in pool
Step 2: Acquiesce to sit on step of pool, only after Papa has filled with .25 inches of warm tap water
Step 3: Realize water is fun. Proceed to get in, splash, and play for next 1.5 hours.

Everyone needs a foam sticker on the cheek

Everyone needs a foam sticker on the cheek