Life with Two

Baby M is almost three weeks old, and I can't believe I'm closing in on the one-month marker already. Yikes, time flies with two kiddos.

Just thought I'd check in with a few things I've learned so far in this transition to two:

1. It's easier and harder to have a second newborn. Easier because you don't have to look up answers every few minutes and try and find the best advice to go by--you finally trust your inherent mother's intuition to guide you. Harder because there's always another person to consider in every decision you make.

2. Transitioning to two is tricky (which is my nice way of saying it's hard). I hear that this is as hard as it gets. After this, adding more is no problem. Some friends from Norway told me they have a saying, "Having two kids is like having ten; having one child is like having zero." Isn't that the truth?

The simple fact is, no matter how stellar of a mom and multi-tasker you are, your time IS divided. There's no getting around it. It's not even fair to say it's divided because that implies an even 50/50 split. Right now it's more like 80/20--80 to my newborn/20 to my two year old. So when the two year old acts out or is needy, I understand. I almost hate to discipline when she acts out because I feel her pain. I really miss my exclusive time with my toddler. She's definitely getting the short end of the stick in this deal--at least for now. People told me not to fear how you were going to love a second as much as the first--it happens naturally. But what they didn't warn me about was the fact that I'd feel bad for my toddler because she was going to get the bum side of the deal to start with. Moms of one child, consider yourself warned.

3. Take all the help you can get--especially with your older child. When you factor in what a raw deal it is for the older one, on top of the six weeks you have to set aside and not pick up your heavier-than-fifteen pounds little one so you can heal, plus you add all the raging hormones that come with postpartum, you quickly realize that you cannot do this transition alone. Thankfully, my mom was here to help out the first week--and most of her helping involved taking my older daughter out to play at the park or run errands so my daughter could get a break from cranky mama.

The second week of my recovery I packed with play dates--friends who had volunteered to take my daughter for a morning to play with their kids. It was so helpful and appreciated that I almost valued it more than meals being brought in. I would seriously consider for the next sprinkle/diaper shower I throw that I encourage all the guests to sign up for a day to take the older kid/kids once the baby's born. It really made all the difference. Plus, there's something about having one baby that makes you want to shut off society and just spend time with your newborn; but there's something about having a second baby that makes you scream for help and dread mornings when you have to do it alone.

4. Cuddling is still just as wonderful as it is with the first. Another benefit to having my firstborn out of the house during recovery is that I still get lots of cuddling time with my newborn. A tiny baby sleeping on my chest, warm breaths on my neck, infant's chest rising and falling with each short breath . . . ahhh, it doesn't get any better than that. Easily one of my top-ten favorite things in all the world.

5. Louder is better. With a two year old in the house, it's almost never quiet. And that's wonderful because my newborn can/will sleep through anything. I can leave her in a room with a TV or radio blaring, I can run the garbage disposal, I can even pick her up and move her to a new location, and she can settle herself down and sleep through just about anything. It's such a blessing not having to tiptoe around my own home--especially considering how much the baby sleeps. I still have free reign in my home, and I like that.

6. A well-prepared home includes a drop station for baby in each room. No matter where I am in the house, I've always got a safe place to put the baby down at a moment's notice to chase/catch/stop my toddler from doing something harmful to herself. Currently I've got a swing in the kitchen, bouncy seat in the dining room, and pack n play in the living room; and I use all of them often. Plus, a swing in the kitchen has been sufficient so far for entertaining the baby while I prep food--and since I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this is especially handy.

I'm sure I'll have more raw observations as time plays out.

Bonus observation: Netflix on my laptop has been the best present to me during this time of recovery. It makes the numerous feedings and late bedtimes a whole lot more bearable =)


The Birth Story

The suspicious one-eye look--she gives this to me all the time.

For those of you who don't know the details of my first delivery, let's just say it was forty-five long hours of intense pain management and unsatisfying results. When all was said and done, the only part of my birth plan still intact was my choice of which shots I wanted my baby to have within the first few hours of life. In the end, I learned how quickly the phrase "healthy baby, healthy mama" takes more precedence over any hopes, desires, and wishes for how your delivery will go. My first delivery was neither drug free nor intervention free, and I had very little knowledge of what the birth experience feels like because I only dealt with contractions--forty-two hours into the labor, I could no longer manage the pain or my body. I opted for an epidural and let go of my dream delivery.

I have since concluded it all went so long because my body was fighting the process of birth--it was like my body had a vice grip on the baby and refused to let her out because delivery felt closer to uncontrolled-chaos than natural human experience. Once I relented and asked for an epidural, which led to petocin to "move things along," sure, I felt wonderful (wonderful=I didn't feel any more pain), but I didn't feel anything else. I didn't feel the urge to push; I didn't feel the baby crowning; I didn't feel the afterbirth; I only felt the rush of emotions when baby girl was placed on my chest.

I realize this sounds dismal and pessimistic, but I'm only setting the stage for the euphoria I felt as a result of this second pregnancy going so differently. As I prepared for this birth, I battled a lot of fears because I had been so confident my first delivery would go one way, yet my vision was shattered with reality. I prayed, confessed, and believed for a specific type of delivery, but my hopes were thin--the first birth had been so long and traumatic that I had a hard time believing anything different could happen. Nevertheless, and I believe this is key, I didn't voice any of my fears nor give them more than a moment's notice in my mind. Talking to me before my second delivery you would have not had any idea I was battling any of this. I truly believe in the power of words, so the only confessions I allowed out of my mouth were I was going to have a healthy baby on September 10th, and it would be a short and easy delivery.

September 9th: I had my 39-week appointment in the afternoon. I knew that I would have the baby that weekend no matter how much progress I had made when she checked me. I didn't desire to try any sort of induction method that put me on the hospital's time clock (e.g., if they break your water, you have to deliver within twenty-four hours or they send you to c-section). I knew stripping my membranes was something I could try, but it didn't guarantee much of anything. If it worked, great; if it didn't work, I could still wait it out and let my body begin the process. So, I had my midwife strip my membranes and hoped for the best.

I was a "two and thick." My midwife, Kim, went so far as to ask me what I wanted to do if I went full term (which tells me she didn't think the baby was coming any time soon). I told her, "Well, I'm having this baby tomorrow or Saturday. But I'm willing to wait at least forty-one weeks before we talk induction of any kind." She said okay--knowing I had a big baby in there--and quietly reminded me, "I just don't want this baby to get too big and get stuck." I told her I wasn't afraid of big babies, and it'd all be okay. I even told the receptionist and the nurse, "Hopefully this is the last time I see you for six weeks. I plan on having the baby this weekend." They smiled and nodded politely.

That evening I had contractions that were slightly stronger than what I'd been experiencing since week thirty-two, but since I'd been contracting for so long, I didn't think much of it. That night when I went to bed, they got stronger, and I found I had to breathe through them. But, remembering how long my first labor was, I didn't get my hopes up. I forced myself to get some sleep (biggest regret from first pregnancy--I didn't sleep when contractions were mild). From 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM, every twenty minutes or so a contraction would wake me up, I'd breathe through it, and then I'd fall back asleep again.

September 10th: 1:00 AM I woke up from a contraction and couldn't fall back asleep. I finally got up and tried different techniques to see if they would change the contractions--ate a snack, moved around, sat on my yoga ball, etc., and they did change--they got stronger and more frequent. I started timing them and they were 3-4 minutes apart. Again, not wanting to get my hopes up, I kept myself distracted and breathed through the contractions. I found sitting on the ball made them more bearable, so I'd get up and work on my snack then race to the ball to sit and breathe through a contraction. With each contraction, I visualized myself opening up, and sometimes I even spoke to my body to open up and let the baby out. I was determined to not let my body fight this delivery.

3:00 AM my hubby's alarm went off (he unloads trucks at UPS for his second job); and I told him he should probably call into work. Five minutes later I second-guessed myself and said, "Well, maybe you could go into work, and I'll just call you when they get really strong." I was having a hard time shaking the memory of my first delivery, and I really wanted to labor as much as possible at home and save myself the embarrassment of being sent home for false labor. But the contractions persisted and got stronger. Within a few minutes I came back to the room and said, "Never mind, you need to get up and pack your bag." My hubby jumped into the shower, and I packed the rest of my stuff and the snacks I wanted to bring.

The next two hours were textbook labor--my body started cleaning itself out, I had my bloody show, and contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. The only thing that hadn't happened was my water breaking. I had my hubby draw me up a bath and I labored in there for about half an hour--the warm water made the contractions more bearable, but at some point I found myself moaning (basically lowing like a cow) to get through the worst of the pain. I hoped that I somehow missed my water breaking by being in the bath, and I got out and finished getting ready.

We woke my two year old and got her ready--I tried to keep her far away from me at this point because the moaning was getting pretty loud, and I was on my hands and knees for most of it. Finally, around 5:30 AM, we were all ready and out the door. In the car, I could no longer avoid my daughter seeing me, so when she asked what I was doing, I said, "Mama's acting like a cow. Isn't that the sound a cow makes?" She nodded in agreement, and I begged my hubby to hurry. When we arrived at my in-laws to drop her off, I told her, "Okay, honey, Mama's going to go and open baby."

She smiled and cheered, "Open baby? YEA!!!" It was the best thing she could've said.

We were at the hospital by 6:00 AM, and I moo-ed into my pillow while my hubby wheeled me to labor and delivery. They started to check me in at the front desk until I started moo-ing again, then they politely and quickly encouraged me to head to my room (yeah, I was that loud).

The contractions were intense, still 2-3 minutes apart, and I had a hard time answering questions in between. All I cared about was if Kim had been notified. When I changed into a gown, they checked me and said, "She's an eight. I'll get a table ready."

I wasn't sure I heard them correctly, "What am I?"

"An eight."

"Praise the Lord!" I exclaimed and almost cried. It was all working--this was going like I had imagined my first pregnancy going.

My midwife arrived in record time. She walked in on a contraction and said, "You little know-it-all. You told me you were going to have this baby this weekend. I think you did this with your first one too." (I did. I went into my 40-week appointment and had not progressed more than a half of a centimeter, and my midwife told me what we'd have to do if we went into week 41, and I told her, "Oh, I'm having the baby this weekend." That night contractions started.)

We commented on how quickly Kim had arrived, and she admitted she had another patient deliver earlier that night and she had arrived two seconds too late. She said she wasn't about to let that happen twice in one night.

6:00-8:00 AM I managed the pain through strong contractions. My hubby was right by my side through it all. I kept myself moving around enough that he didn't have to suggest much, just be there and encourage me. Kim kept suggesting breaking my water. She said I'd feel the contractions more, but it'd make things go faster. At first I didn't want to feel anything more than what I was dealing with; plus I didn't want any interventions if at all possible. Everything had gone according to textbook up until then, I was sure my water would break on its own.

7:50 AM I had only progressed to a nine, and I was starting to tire. I figured getting this baby out was worth weathering stronger contractions, and I'd have to deal with them at one point or another, so I'd rather deal with them at that point than wait until I was even more tired. "Let's get this baby out," I told my midwife, and she prepared to break my water.

Everything after that is a blur. She broke my water, I experienced the longest and most painful contraction yet, and I seriously wondered if I'd be able to make it. Kim checked me again and I was fully dilated and the baby had moved down. The room became a bustle of nurses and supplies, and the second contraction came on strong. At this point, I was on my side and could not move. I had my hubby's hands in mine and was almost face-to-face with him. When that contraction began, the decibel of my moans reached a new level. I was pretty much screaming at this point, even though in my head I was telling myself to keep it low and guttral. I couldn't hear anything people were telling me, and then all of the sudden I felt the urge to push.

I screamed, "I have to push! I have to push!" and when I took a quick breath, I heard them telling me it was okay to push. More screaming (my hubby's eardrums, thankfully, survived) and pushing. When I felt the head crown, yikes! Kim told me, "Okay, good, good, you're crowning now," and I screamed, "I know!" That was the most painful part, but thankfully after a couple of pushes, I felt the body slither out, and I knew it was over.

Kim said, "Okay, Dad, we're going to turn the baby over. What is it?" And I heard my hubby announce,

"It's a girl!"

My first words? "I knew it!"

Hubby later admitted he almost broke down after the announcement--so many emotions, so much going on, ahh, wow. It was 8:16 AM.

Proud papa

Baby girl was put on my chest for a moment. My first thoughts, same as my hubby's, "She looks just like our firstborn." Dark hair, puffy face, darker features. But, as time wore on, we realized she actually looks nothing like our firstborn (she wasted no time establishing her uniqueness). This time, you can actually see a resemblance to me (my first daughter took all of my hubby's good looks).

They took baby girl back, and within a few moments, I delivered the afterbirth (which I had been kind of dreading--I'd heard it hurts and I'd heard it doesn't hurt). For me, it didn't hurt at all, and I was even complimented on how big my placenta was, "Wow, way to grow a placenta." Hehe.

More blur. Baby girl scored a 7-8 on her APGAR. "Eight pounds, ten ounces" was announced, and my hubby asked,

"Did you hear that?" Yikes, I grow big babies, and this time I didn't even care.

One stitch later, and I was waiting in my bed for baby to be returned to me. It was so surreal, and over so fast. My body was shaking from it all, and I just wanted to cry. Wow, we did it. Wow, I made it without drugs. Wow, I have a girl. Wow, I don't know if I'd ever do that again without drugs. Wow, I can't believe it's all over. Wow.

By 3:00 PM, baby girl had a name, Madeline (pronounced with a short i) Rae. It means tower of beauty and wise protection. I've loved it from the first moment we started using it. More than not, she'll go by Maddie at home, but I love Madeline.

Within thirty-six hours, we checked out and were home. Driving in our van my hubby remarked, "Um, I can't believe we had a baby yesterday! And now we're driving around with her in the car." My thoughts exactly, but I felt great. Recovery has been night and day from my first. And it didn't take long for me to decide that I'll go drug free again.

I LOVED feeling everything happen. I love how quickly the recovery is going. And I love knowing my baby didn't have anything foreign pumped into her system within moments of her arrival.

Thanks for all of the congratulations and well wishes. And thank you, especially, to friends and family who have been so helpful since the birth--whether it's a visit, a meal, taking my eldest on a play date, or helping with household chores--I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you!

Me and my girls


It's a girl!

Dear blog followers,

I'd like to introduce you to Madeline Rae. Born Friday, September 10th, 8:16 AM. Eight pounds, ten ounces. It was, thankfully, a quick labor. Birth story soon to come. All is well. I'm in love for the third time in my life. Snuggling with a newborn is one of my favorite things in the world!


37-38 Weeks Prego

Photo courtesy of dizznbon (this isn't me =)

So sorry I've been neglecting you. These last couple of weeks have been a blur of productivity. My to-do list is sufficiently wiped out. There remain a couple of minor tasks, but I could go into labor at this moment and have nothing to worry about. That feels really, really good.

Speaking of going into labor, I am SO ready. I've been planning on this weekend (the 10th-11th) as my ideal date (even though I'm not due until the 18th), but if this baby popped out right now, I'd be thrilled. Even just waiting until this weekend is a bit trying on my patience. This stage (being completely ready and just waiting for the baby to come) is one of the hardest stages for me. I don't like being idle, but it's hard to do much of anything when you're this big. So, I feel like I'm wasting time just sitting and sitting and sitting and sitting and sitting and, well, you get the idea. I'm not a lot of fun for my two year old right now because I'm pretty immobile. Thankfully she's young enough she won't remember these boring days. It's like pulling teeth to motivate myself to cook dinner (I contemplated if it'd be more of a blessing to have people cook food before or after the baby's born--days like yesterday I would've welcomed a free meal and a no-dishes-to-wash kitchen).

Despite my whining (I apologize, whining ends here), I've remained fairly active. This week is packed with play dates and activities. We even managed a miraculous photo shoot with the cousins and all three children (2 and under) looked at the camera at the same time for three different shots. That's amazing! Labor Day weekend was spent jumping from party to party. We even drove over two hours to Arkansas to camp for the day with friends. There was a lot of walking involved, which I was fine with because it meant helping gravity do its work to pull this baby down. I even had some strong, consistent contractions on the way home, but nothing came of it.

A storm moved in (the edge of Hermine) today. They always saw low fronts will send you into labor. Again, I waited expectantly but to no avail. Here I sit looking at my rain-soaked yard and still not feeling anything new.

So my current dilemma is deciding how far I want to go in trying to naturally induce labor. I have a theory that people who tell you what worked for them (e.g., yard work, walking, sex, etc.) just happened to be doing those things before their body went into labor. Basically, I believe they would've gone into labor regardless of if they were doing those things or not. So the whole idea makes me skeptical. A friend of mine just told me about a pasta dish that's guaranteed to make you go into labor, but for some reason that made me queasy. I'm beginning to wonder how far I want to go taking God's plan and squeezing it into my own timeframe. I believe my body will go into labor when it's right and best for the baby, so shouldn't I just sit back and wait for that to happen this time? I'm torn. I'm really uncomfortable and really prepared for this baby to come now, yet I don't want to force anything. I believe the best experience will be the one my body triggers, not the one I force with my fast-forward button.

What do you think, dear readers? To naturally induce or not? Do you think it really works, or do you think your body will do what it wants to do when it wants to do it regardless of what you're doing at the time?

Another quick poll: Do you think I'm having a boy or girl? My gut flip flops on a daily basis, and right now when I picture myself with a baby, it's a boy. I think that's really bizarre because right now I'm leaning more toward wanting a girl--I would just love for A to have a sister close in age to grow up with. Plus, our play dates are stocked full of boys, so another girl to throw in the mix would be kind of refreshing. Either way, I'm curious to know what you guys think this baby will be. Just leave it in the comments section.

And if you're wondering, we're no closer to picking out a name than we were nine months ago. Our list (for both genders) is long and full of potential options. It took us twenty-four hours to choose A's name--and we already knew the gender and only had three options on our list. Who knows how long this decision will take. Is it possible to leave the hospital with a nameless baby? I may have the answer for you sooner than later ;-)