(1) a sweet reminder from my friend Amber who guest posted for me last week. While this is particularly relevant for parents, it can also be meaningful for anyone who is trying to remain balanced and focused on the things that are most important in life.
(2) My theme song for the next three months:
(3) If you haven't yet had the chance to check out the series of guest posts from Mary, you'll want to. She's a fabulous cook, and has shared some great recipes in the "Holiday Sweets" series. Check out the Pumpkin Cupcakes, Skillet Apple Crisp, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, and Holiday Biscotti. There's one more post from her coming soon - check back next week for some festive cookies!
(4) Baby Girl was born the day after my four-year blogiversary. Just for fun, here's a link to the first-ever rhymeswithsmile blog post: Russian Apple Pancakes.
And now, the birth story.
I'd been having contractions for the entire month of November. Sometimes they were strong and regularly timed (like the night I was up for 2-3 hours with powerful ones every 6-8 minutes), and other days they'd come and go with mealtimes, rests, water breaks, exercise, and toddler playtime. Everyone - doctors, friends, the internet - told me that since my first was born right on time, the second one would probably come early. Yes! I was ready. Mom flew in the week before the due date, and we scurried around making preparations, cooking, cleaning, and running errands like mad so that we'd have everything ready for November 16th.
But then the 16th came and went. I was so disappointed and even a little weepy. Not only was I physically uncomfortable and huge, I just wanted to meet our child! But, I figured we could wait another day. Besides, Mom and I had projects to do, and recipes to try.
But that day turned into another one, and another one ... and finally, another whole week had passed, and there was no baby (and the doctor told me I was about 2 centimeters dilated - I think maybe he was just having pity on a woman a week past her due date). Family came into town for Thanksgiving - and instead of having a beautiful child to share with them, I showed them how awkward it is for a 41-week-pregnant woman to stand up from the couch and how much food could actually be stuffed into a pregnant belly. Then, they left. I resigned myself to the fact that I'd always be pregnant, and would never be able to go more than 1 hour at night without having to get up to pee, and would always grunt and look ridiculous whenever I had to go from sitting to standing. I felt frustrated, sad, cranky with my body, and just plain upset. Of course, my logical self knew that the end was in sight and I'd get my body back eventually ... but my oh-I'm-so-over-it self kept stuffing that self in the back of the closet with the pre-maternity skinny jeans. (It's easy for me to have some perspective on this right now, looking across the living room at my sleeping newborn. But this time two weeks ago, I was a mess, and not very pleasant to be around.)
So, the visiting family members left on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Mom stayed here - bless her preciousness. We went for a moderate walk that morning on a trail by a reservoir, and that really tired me out. I had some contractions, but nothing regular or too painful. I was, after all, always going to be pregnant, so contractions didn't really mean a whole lot to me anymore.
Saturday night was uneventful. I went to bed, woke up multiple times during the night to pee, and slept in between.
Sunday morning at 6 o'clock, I woke up with contractions. They didn't necessarily feel any different than previous contractions, but they were coming regularly at 6-7 minutes so I laid in bed for about half an hour, timing them and paying attention to them. By the time I got up, I decided I should eat something - because, if these really were meaningful contractions, I would need energy ... and if they weren't meaningful contractions then I still wanted food. Through breakfast, they started coming about 5-6 minutes apart, then 4-5 minutes. I realized something was up when Mom asked me a question and I couldn't answer her until the contraction had passed.
Not wanting to rush to the hospital and be told that I was still at 2 centimeters (or worse, that I wasn't even really in labor), I decided to stall. Why not take a walk? The dog needed to get out, and it was a pretty Sunday morning. Mom got Little Girl ready to go, and I said I'd join them. But then all of a sudden, I couldn't. The contractions were coming 3-4 minutes apart, for about a minute. The last thing I wanted to do was walk through the neighborhood , stopping at every other driveway to huff and puff my way through a contraction. So, we sent them on, and the Mr. and I got ready to go to the hospital. He loaded things in the car, we called the hospital, and then we were off (after a somewhat weepy goodbye to the Little Girl and Mom). I was scared - mostly of being turned away from the hospital with a pity pat on the back - but excited too. Maybe we'd really get to meet our new child soon. I sure hoped so.
We got to the hospital around 10:15 on Sunday morning. Sure enough, I was in labor (I think I said "Praise Jesus!" when the nurse said they'd admit me), dilated about 6-7 centimeters. I could've kissed that nurse. I was so thankful that we were going to have our baby!
Contractions kept coming, but the nurse didn't check me again. They monitored the baby's heart rate for a few minutes every 15 minutes or so, but didn't keep me hooked up to anything so that I could move around as I needed to. After a couple of hours or so I started wondering how much I had progressed, and when I would know that I should start pushing.
And then it happened - the Mr. and I were alone in the room (my nurse had just stepped out for a few minutes). I started to have a contraction, and then I had the sensation of a young elephant falling out of the sky onto my abdomen and had SUCH a strong urge to push. There was so much pressure, and it was awful. I don't remember whether I called the nurse or whether it was the Mr. who did it, but there was no doubt for either of us that this was it.
Apparently, my nurse also knew something was up from our tone of voice. She rushed back in the room with a troop of other nurses and the doctor. This was at about 12:20 PM. The doctor barely had time to suit up (I heard her yell, "I don't care what size of gloves you give me - I'll take anything! We're moving fast!") before another contraction came and I had to push. My water broke then (exploded, really - the only gross fact I'll share). But eleven minutes and four contractions later, our child was born!
And ... it's a GIRL (the Mr. got to announce it to me!)! She weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces - just half an ounce less than her big sister. She's 20.75 inches long, with a head full of dark hair and beautiful rosy cheeks. She is healthy, squirmy, newborny, tiny, and precious. We are so excited to have TWO daughters - TWO DAUGHTERS! I'm still in shock. I love it.
This time around, I am thankful for so many things regarding the birth experience ...
- that it was only 6 1/2 hours long
- that I knew from prior experience that labor wasn't going to rip me in half
- that it was an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery
- that even though pushing a small human out of my body is probably the most painful and horrible experience in the world, it was SHORT
- that my kind, understanding, supportive husband was present and encouraging
- that my sweet Mom was able to spend a total of 3 1/2 weeks caring for me/us/Little Girl/Baby Girl
- that this Baby Girl is joining a family and community that have anticipated her with such joy, and welcome her with such excitement