Max’s Birth Story

My oldest child, my son Max, is turning five.  Five, you guys. FIVE.  On one hand it makes perfect sense.  He’s getting bigger.  He’s been around a few years.  He has big kid interests…but!  But…he’s my baby!  He can’t be five because he’s just a soft, chubby little pumpkin that I gave birth to a few weeks ago, right?  No.  Not right.  He’s FIVE.

I know I sound a little dismayed, because I am, but I am also really proud.  I’m proud of him for being so big and beautiful.  (you should see his eyelashes!) I’m proud of him for being almost scarily smart.  I’m proud of him for being so strong and brave and hungry to learn new things.

I’m proud of myself too.  Somehow, someway I’ve raised him for five years and he seems to be mostly doing ok.  He’s healthy, he knows how to think for himself (inconvenient though that may be at times…) and he seems to be a happy little fellow.  We have our rough patches but at the end of the day he will still cuddle up next to me to tell me how he’s feeling and what he’s thinking.  We talk and hug and I think, “Well, if  I’ve done nothing else right today, at least he knows he is loved.”

And he is.  So very very loved.  More than he will ever be able to imagine.

My pregnancy with Max was textbook normal in the best possible way.  I had intense nausea but it only lasted through the first trimester.  The second trimester was glorious.  I ate many carefully scrutinized foods (you never know where mercury or Listeria or caffeine might be hiding!) and grew all the right amounts and experienced the joy of feeling my tiny baby bumping around inside my belly.  We had an ultrasound to find out his sex but had our doctor put the results in an envelope that we saved until Christmas morning.  That was the most exciting Christmas EVER.  We found out he was a boy and nearly lost our minds with happiness because we’d always dreamed of having a boy first.  We battled over his name until I issued a decree a month before he was born saying that if the Hubs couldn’t compromise on something with me before I gave birth he would forfeit his right to have any input at all.  Because I’ll be damned if I’m going to get bossed around after I push a baby out of my vagina.  The Hubs is a pretty clever fellow so we sorted out the baby’s name shortly thereafter; Jon Maxwell but we would call him Max.

The third trimester was largely uneventful.  I had a couple extra ultrasounds because my measurements were a little off and it turned out that the fluid surrounding the baby was a little low.  Luckily it wasn’t serious and did seem to remedy itself.  I was fairly stressed out at work and was lucky enough to be in a position to quit before the baby came.  So I had six weeks all to myself before his arrival.  It was magnificent.  There are no words to describe the absolute decadence of being an adult with no kids and no job but also no worries about paying the bills because of The Hubs.  I have never taken even one moment of that time for granted.  I went to the gym every day and power-waddled on the treadmill.  I took naps if I was tired.  I cooked foods that I wanted to eat.  I read books for hours with no interruptions.  It was pure bliss.

Meanwhile, the pregnancy was still progressing nicely.  Towards the end I was starting to dilate, the baby was dropping and all things seemed to be gearing up for birth.  At my 40 week check up, my OB suggested that we do one last ultrasound to check the baby’s fluid.  Assuming that was still looking good we were all set to just wait until he decided to show up on his own.  I had zero interest in an induction.  My goal was a natural a birth as possible.  As it turned out, my fluid was pretty low.  Not super-dangerous-freak-out-low but low enough that sitting around for the next week or two and waiting to see what happened wasn’t really a good idea.  She recommended we go to the hospital and begin an induction.  I cried.  She sat by the table patting my leg and reassuring me that everything would be ok.  I was already dilated to 4 cm and would likely not need much help at all to get going.  I knew it would all work out fine in the end but I still felt scared and sad.  The OB gave us a couple of hours to go home and get our stuff before checking in to the hospital.  I took my sweet time because I’m passive aggressive like that but yes, I did gather up my things and go to the hospital in a timely manner.  It was about 3:30 pm by the time I got there.  My mom actually beat us there and met my nurse before I did!  As it turned out, the nurse was the mother of a student at my mom’s school so they were somewhat familiar with each other, which was fun and kind of nice.  It definitely helped to ease my nerves a bit.

Our nurse got us settled in our room and hooked me up with an iv of pitocin to get contractions started.  The waiting began.  I was on a pretty low dose of pitocin so the contractions weren’t too bad at first.  I could definitely feel them, and they didn’t feel great, but they were ok.  I was standing next to my bed, chatting with my parents and waiting for my poor doula to arrive through awful rush hour traffic. While all this was going on, the anesthesiologist came in to chat with me about an epidural.  I told him that I planned to just wait and see how things went and that I preferred to go without the meds if possible.  He smiled and told me that I’d probably be calling him back in once I was dilated closer to 4 cm.  I told him I walked into the hospital at 4 cm and I was fine, thanks.  This fellow proved to be not nearly so clever as the Hubs because he continued to talk. A lot.  I was still standing next to my bed at this point and Dr Drugs had the moxie (or an utter lack of social cue reading skills) to smile again and tell me that he was “quite sure” he’d be seeing me later because he had seen many laboring women and knew that I would undoubtedly want the epidural at some point.  My clever husband and my wise mother were sitting on the sofa with their eyebrows raised nearly off their foreheads.  I smiled and told him that I was pretty sure I’d know what I wanted when I wanted it and if it had anything to do with him I’d let him know and now in the meantime I’d like to be done talking, thank you.  He finally seemed to realize that I was not anxious to partake in his catheter of delights and left my room.  The Hubs said he’d never seen someone fuck up a sale so thoroughly in his life.  My mom said that was when she knew that unless something went horribly awry I would definitely not be getting an epidural.  They were both right.  Because seriously, fuck that guy.  Who is he to tell me what I want?! I don’t care how many laboring women he’s seen, he is still a man and has no fucking clue about the complexity of what goes on inside a laboring woman’s mind and body.  Also, if he hadn’t been such a pompous dickhead maybe I would have changed my mind but as it was, NOPE.  Go make your money elsewhere, d-bag.

(Ok, I might still be a little irritated about that.  But seriously guys, if you could have seen the smug, condescending look on his face! UGH!)

Moving on!  My lovely doula arrived shortly after that.  We recounted the story to her and she basically just rolled her eyes, sighed and said, “Drug dealers.  They’re all the same no matter where they’re selling.”  Which made us laugh.  Which was good.

(Side note: Just to be clear, my issue here isn’t with the use of pain medication during labor.  My issue is with the douchery of the doctor I was dealing with. His job was to inform me of my options and let me make a decision.  What he did was talk in circles and attempt to inform me of what my decision should/would be.  And that is decidedly NOT his job.)

Seriously moving on now.  I promise.

At this point I had been hooked up to the pitocin for a while and the contractions were starting to take a little more work now.  So my parents cleared out and it was just the Hubs and my doula with the nurse popping in every so often to check on things.  I did as much walking around as possible, which was basically back and forth to the bathroom because I couldn’t unhook my monitors for too long at any one time.  I was getting tired and frustrated with all the machines: the iv, the baby monitor wrapped around my belly, the blood pressure cuff on my arm…it was overwhelming.  At about 8pm my OB came in to check on me and suggested that we break my water to help move things along a little more.  She felt that if we did that we might not need to up the dosage of the pitocin.  I was on the fence about it but did decide to go that route in the end.  So we broke my water and things went from mildly miserable to definitely miserable.  Now not only was I tethered to machines but I was gross and leaky and in more pain.  This continued with slow but steady progress from about 8:30pm until midnight.  At midnight I asked for my nurse and told her that I was still 100% sure that I didn’t want an epidural but that I DID want a break.  I told her that I just wanted a little break to rest and not feel quite so awful.  She said she could absolutely help with that and offered a small dose of nubain. She explained that I would still be able to feel the contractions when they came but they wouldn’t seem quite so bad and that I’d be able to rest much better between them.  I thought that sounded just right for me so I went for it.  I got the medication sometime shortly after midnight.  My nurse and my doula helped to arrange me on my side in bed with my top leg in a stirrup; which sounds awful and sort of was at first but actually ended up being really good.  For the next hour, I dozed a bit between contractions while my husband held my hand and helped me breathe through the contractions when they came.  It was exactly what I needed.  As 1am approached I was feeling more and more pressure from the baby and my contractions were right on top of each other.  My nurse checked my cervix and it was time to start pushing.  I was relieved and excited and ready to do whatever it took to have this baby and be DONE with labor already!

My nurse and doula helped me get into position on the bed and then my nurse told me we should try a couple of practice pushes.  But see, once I started pushing it was so very obviously the right thing to do and my body didn’t really get the whole concept of “practice pushing”.  I pushed a couple of times and my nurse was all, “Oh great!!  Let’s try to hold off a little longer so your doctor can get here, ok?” And being the classy lady that I am, I replied, “Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?!”  And she, being far classier and smarter than most people, replied to that with a quick nod and “Ok then, just do your thing.  We’ll figure it out.”

So we did.

My doctor made it in plenty of time.  The poor thing had literally just made it back to her sofa for a quick nap after an emergency c-section that night when they called her back for me.  She rushed back up to the hospital and helped me learn how to push through the pain.  I can still hear her in my mind telling me to use the pain, to take the power of it and use it to push through.  My nurse was on one side, my doula on the other and my sweet husband was literally walking circles around us all, probably getting in everyone’s way, though they were all too nice to tell him to settle down.  Finally, after about 45 minutes of pushing, our gorgeous boy arrived.  The elation of that moment is indescribable.  I’ve said it before and it might be the truest thing I’ve ever said, having a baby is the best high you can possibly imagine.  The Hubs called our mom’s who were out in the waiting room.  I was told later they hugged while crowded around the cell phone to hear Max’s cry.  My doula cried.  My nurse (who had volunteered to stay past the end of her shift so she could help me through the birth) had someone bring me food, proving again that she really was the classiest and smartest of us all.  Meanwhile I sat in bed holding my baby, falling in love and feeling like the biggest badass on the planet; never mind the exhaustion.

Max was a chubby 8 pounds 3 ounces of pure, cuddly perfection.  He had the most perfect head of tiny brown hair.  It looked painted on, like a little doll.  His cheeks were munchable.  I almost expired of joy once I got a whiff of his delectable new baby smell.  I think I sat around smelling his soft, round head for the next twelve hours straight.

I don’t know how to describe what a life-changing experience this was.  It was unbelievably challenging.  It was infinitely rewarding.  I think my heart shattered and re-knit itself into a completely different form that day.

The past five years with this little man have been some of the most intense and wonderful years of my life.  Five years really isn’t all that long but at the same time I feel like I barely even remember a life without him in it; my beautiful boy.

 

Happy Birthday, Jon Maxwell.

Baby Max

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Marleigh’s Birth Story

I love birth stories.  I like hearing all the nitty-gritty details of what it was like for other people to give birth.  I know some people totally aren’t into that and that’s ok.  I get it.  Birth is pretty gory and generally speaking, I’m not into gore.  But it’s also pretty amazing and that’s where I get sucked in.  It’s like watching the Olympics.  I’m not really into sports but show me a video montage of someone winning a medal they’ve dreamed about and shed blood, sweat and tears for and I’ll sit there riveted and sob like a baby.  Every time.

There’s also something reassuring about hearing birth stories.  Whether the birth was incredibly difficult or remarkably “easy” it’s always comforting to know that whoever is telling the story apparently lived to, well, tell about it.  I’ve always felt that if so-and-so could deliver a baby then darn it, so could I!  Presumptuous?  Maybe.  But also true.

Marleigh is my third child so I knew what I was getting into when it came to giving birth to her.  Sort of.  I mean, I had a general idea of how the process typically goes as well as the encouraging knowledge that I’d already survived the process twice before, so my chances were probably pretty good. I knew there would be an ebb and flow to the process.  That some parts would be fairly easy and other parts would make me feel like I was insane for doing this again.  I also knew that it would be oh so incredibly worth it.

I was induced on my due date for medical reasons with my firstborn.  My second child was an excruciating five days late.  I was trying to mentally prepare myself for going past my due date with Marleigh, even though I really really really didn’t want to.  However, as her due date approached I just kept having the feeling that she might come a little early.  I told that feeling to shut the hell up.  That feeling could easily turn me into a hysterical mess if I believed it and then ended up being overdue.  Yet, even as I was telling that little feeling to shove off I was also kind of hedging my bets by trying to get everything ready just in case.  I had been dilating bit by bit at my last few midwife appointments so by 39 weeks I was at 3 centimeters.  This made me happy because those were centimeters that I didn’t have to wait around for during labor.  I like to think of my cervix as being proactive.  I packed my labor bag.  Organized, sterilized and sorted things in the nursery.  Made The Hubs install the car seat. Then I just HAD to go to Target for some last-minute stuff.  I also had to pick up a gallon of some weird fish oil by-product from a friend in hopes of resurrecting my pitiful garden.  So I did those things.  I chatted with my friend about how yes, I was ready to have the baby any time but I was totally ok with going longer if needed.  I was being cool and calm about it.  Trying to show my baby that I could handle anything she threw my way.  I left my friend’s house, came home, ate a bowl of cereal, laid on my bed and felt a very distinct and forceful POP.  I froze.  (not hard to do when you’re basically an immobile, pregnant lump…)  Nothing appeared to be happening but I had to pee anyway so I got up and *whoosh* – water all down my legs.  Seeing as I’d been very confident in my continence up until this point I was pretty damn sure my water had just broken. (It was about 4:00pm and I was 39 weeks & 3 days)  I stood on the bathmat in my bathroom, intermittently trickling amniotic fluid  and determined that I was probably going to be having a baby soon.  I told The Hubs my water was broken and he jumped up, ran around getting dressed, putting on a hat (?!) and then finally asking what he should do.  It was hands down the fastest I’ve even seen him move, very impressive, but also kind of funny since by now he should know that this process takes hours.  There was more than enough hat-putting-on time left.  He was assigned to call our mothers while I called to talk to our midwife.  I was advised to just go about my business as usual for the next couple hours and wait for contractions to start, keeping in touch with my midwife via phone at this point.  It was a good plan.  But I was so shocked by the whole scenario that I was literally shaking.  I just never in a million years actually thought I’d go into labor before my due date.  Also, having your water break is sort of startling in itself.  It’s so completely involuntary and…drippy.  Very awkward.

My mom came over to watch the boys for us.  While we waited for my contractions to get going we assembled the baby’s swing and did a few other miscellaneous tasks to kill time.  After two hours, at about 6:00pm, I started having contractions that were around nine minutes apart.  By 6:30 they had progressed to being about six to seven minutes apart.  At this point, while they were nice, clear, obvious contractions they weren’t particularly painful.  Definitely uncomfortable and definitely NOT just Braxton Hicks but still really manageable.  They were like the Dwight Schrute of contractions; big, annoying enough to be noticeable but definitely not scary in any way.  No need to stop everything and breathe through them, just kind of let them do their thing and note the timing.  At 8:00pm my midwife called to check in.  I told her my contractions were pretty regular at six-plus minutes apart but not particularly painful.  We agreed that I could labor at home a while longer but that I would call her right away if my contractions increased in intensity or got closer together.  I was still feeling really good so I was totally on board with this plan.  However, thirty minutes later my contractions suddenly went to being just barely four minutes apart and feeling stronger.  So I called my midwife back, updated her and we agreed to meet at the birth center within thirty minutes.  My mom and The Hubs were feeling much more anxious about this than I was.  I’ll confess to being a wee bit spacey between contractions.  As they were trying to shuffle me out the door I was pausing by the fruit bowl to assess the avocados.  I just wanted to see if I needed to put them in the fridge!  I didn’t want them going bad, I wanted to eat them!  This is totally reasonable behavior…except, apparently, when you’re in labor with your third child and your contractions are (at this point) three and half minutes apart. And just so you know, it appears to be unacceptable to pause and look for a particular pair of flip-flops or to load a couple of dishes in the dishwasher at this point as well.  People get all weird and twitchy… like the baby’s just gonna come jumping out of your body any minute.  Believe me, babies don’t just come jumping out.  Ever.

We finally start driving to the birth center.  Though I’d been having steady contractions less than four minutes apart for a while I didn’t have even one during the fifteen minute drive.  It is NOT fun to have contractions in a moving vehicle.  But suddenly not having them?  That made me nervous.  We arrived at about 9:15pm  and saw our midwife whom we adore and who also delivered Mason.  (and who we were not-so-secrectly hoping would be on call.)  She checked my cervix and announced, “I feel hair!”  Which was not at all what I was expecting to hear.  Oddly, this was very exciting and endearing to us.  The Hubs and I whispered to each other, “Awww!  She has hair!” several times over the next hour or so.  Oh, and I was still three centimeters dilated.  Not as exciting or endearing as the hair.  Since baby and I checked out to be healthy & happy and since my contractions had tapered off on the drive over, my midwife suggested that we walk.  We had the option of walking around outside or walking the stairs inside.  I vetoed the stairs immediately.  Outside we went!  We walked and talked.  Our baby has hair!  HAIR!  We can’t wait to see the hair on her cute little baby head!  Thirty minutes or so later my contractions were back to being about seven minutes apart and I was sick of walking in circles.

Inside the birth center we went upstairs to our room, checked my blood pressure, baby’s heart rate etc. and settled in.  I sat on the birth ball and The Hubs and our midwife sat in the chairs and we all just relaxed and chatted.  It was great.  So friendly and fun and if we’d been on a patio with margaritas it would have been fabulous.  But I was supposed to be having a baby and it was taking a lot longer than I’d anticipated so I was intermittently pissed off.  My contractions just weren’t getting much closer or stronger and while that made for pleasant conversation (honestly, we were having a really good time!  It was bizarre…and nice.) it wasn’t so effective for giving birth.  I felt so guilty.  My husband and the midwife were happily chatting away and I was just feeling so incredibly guilty.  Like I was wasting everyone’s time.  Like I needed to be doing something to get this show on the road!  People are waiting to see a baby and I just wasn’t delivering.  (ha! get it?!  I’ll wait while your roll your eyes…ok, ready?)  Seriously though, I was getting so frustrated and just feeling so awful about it.  I finally interrupted and confessed all this to the midwife and The Hubs.  They were nothing but positive and supportive.  Which made me love them all the more…and feel even more guilty.  It was about 11:00pm when my midwife offered me some herbs that would help bring my contractions closer together.  I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to take them.  I didn’t say this at the time but I was just so determined to “do it myself” that I didn’t want to take something to help.  Sometimes, I’m a stubborn fool.  (Hi, My name’s Rachelle and I’m a Taurus.  Obviously.)  My midwife was so laid back and cool about my hesitation.  She just left the option open and let it go.  I spent another hour sitting, standing, rocking and on all fours guilting myself to death for not being better at having babies.  It was absurd.  At midnight, with no discernible progress, I finally caved.  I asked my midwife about the herbs and decided to go ahead and take them.  It was one silly little capsule.  It was like the freaking Matrix only you don’t get a fancy leather outfit and an instantaneous knowledge of Kung Fu.  You just get to lay down on the bed and assume that you’ll have a baby…eventually.

The Hubs and I got cozy on the big bed (advantage #78 to having your baby in a birth center) and prepared to take a little nap.  My midwife advised me that the herbs would take “at LEAST” an hour to kick in so I might as well rest.  I laid down on my side and dozed off for 20 blissful, drooly minutes before a pretty gnarly contraction woke me up.  I felt surprised but hopeful that maybe things would start progressing soon.  I tried to doze off again but another contraction kept that from happening.  Suddenly these contractions were all serious and shit.  No more la-dee-dah friendly contractions.  These contractions weren’t messing around.  I had to focus and breathe through them.  The Hubs, who claims to be a super light sleeper, snoozed his way through all my subtle writhing and not so subtle heavy breathing.  I finally decided to drag myself out of the bed to go pee before these contractions got totally out of control.  It was a good, sound decision and a total fucking beating.  As I dragged myself back from the bathroom I had to stop a few times to work through contractions.  I made it to the middle of the room, gripped the footboard of the bed, bent nearly in half and breathed like a laboring Darth Vader.  At which point my husband finally woke up and asked, “Are you having a contraction?”  (wait while I roll my eyes…ok, I’m ready.)  I did not curse at him because I’m a damn saint.  Or because I was too busy staying alive during that contraction to bother.  Maybe a bit of both.  He got out of the bed and helped me over to the birth ball because I wanted to sit down.  I sat and worked through a couple more really intense contractions before I told him to get our midwife from the next room.

It was 1:00am at this point.  She checked on the baby and I again and then sat with me while I contracted some more.  I held onto her with one hand and my husband with the other.  They just sat there patiently and quietly with me while I worked through what were now very strong and very frequent contractions.  They gave me sips of water and told me that I was doing great.  My husband started to say something heartfelt regarding his wedding ring and I shushed him because, CONTRACTIONS.  And as I sat there feeling battered by these relentless waves of pain I thought so many random things.  I thought about the irony of how I’d spent hours being frustrated that my contractions weren’t close enough or strong enough and now that they were I just wanted them to stop.  I thought about how my doula had told me (at Mason’s birth) that when I started feeling this overwhelmed that meant it was almost over and my baby would be here soon…and how I’d called her a liar…and how Mason had been born very shortly thereafter.  I literally laughed out loud at myself for thinking, “This was a terrible idea!”…because it’s *exactly* the same thought I’ve had at some point during labor for each of my kids.  I thought about how this moment was so similar to giving birth to my other kids.  The feelings of physical pain mixed with so many emotions: anticipation, worry, helplessness, determination and resolution.  Overshadowing all of those was the desire to see and hear and touch my baby.  My god, it was all just so intense.  So fucking intense.  I felt like all of this took eons.  In reality, it was about thirty minutes.  My midwife asked if I’d like to try going to the bathroom one more time.  I nearly cried.  In fact I’m 99% certain that I whimpered.  But I said yes because I knew it was a good idea.  So off to the bathroom we went.  All three of us.  It took a year – or five minutes – to walk across the room into the bathroom.  (Why the hell did I keep going all the way back to the far side of the bed?!)  I’ll spare you the details of what took place in the bathroom.  Suffice to say that I don’t even pee in front of my husband at home so this whole “crowd”  of people in the bathroom with me took some getting used to.  Even in my contraction induced haze I was not happy to have company in there.  But no way in hell was I going to let them leave.  When I could finally heave myself up from the toilet, they walked me back into the bedroom and asked if I wanted to lay on the bed.  This was another yes-but-no moment.  I DID want to lay on the bed.  Very badly.  However there was a lot of work involved in getting my huge, laboring body onto the bed that I wasn’t really interested in.  I would have preferred to levitate myself onto the bed.  Or maybe employ a crane of some kind.  Like those ones they use to transport whales and dolphins and stuff.  As it turns out, those options were not available.  So that sucked.  I did manage to climb/collapse into that bed eventually though.  And it was great for all of thirty seconds until a contraction plowed through me like a freight train.  Remember those early labor, Dwight Schrute contractions?  Kinda big, annoying and ultimately harmless?  Yeah, those were long gone.  These new contractions were like vengeful Liam Neeson; serious, relentless and scary as fuck.  They were here to get shit done.

I had about three or four contractions while lying on my side on the bed.  Then I felt the urge to push.  Which wasn’t so much an urge as it was an absolutely crushing need to push.  My midwife coached me along saying that if I felt like I needed to push that I could go ahead and do so.  I imagine she was taking her cues from the borderline inhuman sounds I was making.  (Hey, sometimes you just gotta let it all hang out.  I think giving birth is one of those times.) So I went for it.  I stayed in my side-lying position, let my midwife handle my legs (I can’t be in charge of *everything*) and pushed with all my might.  The Hubs was sitting up on the bed next to me, holding my hand and encouraging me.  My midwife handed him a sheet to cover himself with, commenting that she didn’t want him to get messy.  Side note: who wears white shorts to a birth?  The Hubs, that’s who.  God love him.

Meanwhile, I’m still pushing.

The advantage to this being my third birth is that I knew I had to just go for it.  No holds barred, full throttle yadda yadda yadda.  The more delicately or gently you try to push, the longer it takes to get the baby out.  That’s just how it works.  If you need to remove a ship from a bottle, take your time, use a little finesse, be cautious.  If you need to remove a baby from your birth canal, stop fucking around and push.  There is no need to prolong this process.

So yeah, pushing.  Because I’m babbling about it in retrospect here you might think this is taking a long time.  It’s not.  This is all happening pretty fast.  But not fast enough.  As I’m pushing I’m thinking to myself, “Ummm…this needs to be done.”  The conversation with my midwife is going something like this:

Me: THIS ISN’T WORKING!!!!!!

Her: Yes it is!  You’re doing great!  Just a little more…

The Hubs: Seriously honey, you’re doing so good!

Me: NO.  THIS IS NOT WORKING!!

Her: It is!  I promise it is!  She’s almost here.

Me: SHE NEEDS TO BE OUT!!  MAKE HER COME OUT!!!

Her: She’s coming.  You’re doing SO good…just a little more…

And what do you know?  She was right.  Marleigh came gushing into the world right about then. (It was 2:12am)  I realize I should have said something more reverent than “gushing” but I was there and gushing is definitely the right word for what happened.  My response was pretty reverent though.  I let loose with an ecstatic, “Oh my god!!” because nothing in the world feels quite as amazing as having your baby OUT of your body.  All that pain, all those crazy thoughts and intense feelings were suddenly just gone.  As if someone flipped a switch.  I felt amazing as my baby girl was laid on my chest.  She was all chubby cheeks and dark hair covered in vernix.  She was absolute perfection.  She was so calm, opening her eyes and looking into my face.  I couldn’t believe this glorious, goopy little creature was mine.  She was healthy!  She was female!  She made me so happy and proud just because she existed.  What a brave, strong, darling little girl.

As I basked in the glow of my gorgeous daughter, the midwife took the opportunity to tell me that she had been born with her arm up by her head.  For those that don’t know much about giving birth, the ideal scenario is that only the baby’s head comes out first and all the other body parts follow after.  The head is quite large enough, thank you.  No need to go adding to its girth.  It is, then, less than ideal when the baby decides to bring out extra parts along with the head.  I was not amused.  Though it did explain that whole “THIS ISN’T WORKING!!!!” feeling I’d been having while pushing.  I said as much to my midwife and she nodded, saying that she’d been inwardly cringing for me as she encouraged me to just keep going.  If that woman’s Poker Face is anything like her Assisting a Birth Face she needs to take her cute self to Vegas immediately. I had no idea that there was anything other than textbook perfect crowning baby going on down there.

After happily chatting, getting checked up and cleaned up I was able to settle in with some snacks and just enjoy our new baby.  It was blissful.  A sweet, healthy baby girl.  A loving husband.  Two fun little boys waiting for us at home.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that I truly have everything I’ve ever wanted in life.  And it was worth every single struggle, heartbreak and yes, all that blood, sweat and tears to get here.

There is a quote by Martin Luther King Jr that says, “Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained…their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”

This moment, was one of those.

I Don’t Mean to Brag but…

Our newest family member, Marleigh Juliana, was born just over two weeks ago.  On her older brother’s birthday.  Because she has no problem asserting herself.  She is sweet, chubby and cuddly.  Everything a newborn baby should be.  Her brothers absolutely love her.  Max is thrilled to pieces each and every time she opens her eyes and looks at him.  Mason, whose birthday she so boldly took, literally cannot be in the same room with her without touching her; kissing her, gently patting her head or poking her tiny feet.  It’s pretty adorable.  Overall, I would say both boys are adjusting very well to having a little sister.

As for me, well, I think I’m doing ok too.  When people ask me how I’m adjusting to life with three kids, I’m not always sure what to say to them.  How do you know you’re doing well?  There’s a pretty wide range of success markers to gauge yourself with.  Anywhere from “Well, We’re All Alive” to “Why Yes, These Are My Skinny Jeans and I DID Just Churn That Butter By Hand”.  So I started taking stock of my recent successes to see where I stand.  I think you’ll be pretty impressed.

  • I have washed my hair three times since giving birth.  This is right on par with my pre-baby hair washing average.  A clear win.
  • I have not peed my pants even once.  (If you’ve ever had a baby, you totally get this.)
  • All three children have been fed daily, multiple times per day.
  • I did not scream, “HOLY FUCKING SHITBALLS!!!!” every time Marleigh latched on to nurse the first week.
  • I’m pretty sure I got very nearly three hours of sleep the other night.
  • I have cooked fish sticks, salad and blueberry muffins.  Not all on the same day, obviously, that would be crazy.
  • I remembered to order diapers from amazon.
  • I have managed to get all my kids fed, dressed and out the door before 9am on three separate occasions.
  • I’ve gone grocery shopping and remembered pretty much everything.  For the most part.  Sort of.
  • I only broke down sobbing twice when literally EVERYONE in my family got sick and/or got pink eye right after we brought Marleigh home.
  • I did not completely lose my shit when our air conditioner went out pretty much the moment that everyone in the family was finally healthy again.  Because that wasn’t frustrating at all.
  • I was told by the nurse doing my post-partum exam that I have “…really firm abdominal muscles…” and “…a remarkably fast-shrinking uterus!”  I assume this is all underneath the generous layer of squishy tummy that I’m sporting right now.  Regardless, I’m clearly a fine specimen of human female. Don’t be jealous.
  • I have brushed my teeth every day.  Except one.
  • I can change a diaper in the dark.
  • The baby has only peed on me twice. So far.
  • I have cut the baby’s nails without injury (to her) or panic attacks (for me).
  • My one-handed Pinterest-ing while breastfeeding skills are pretty epic.

Also, I managed to write this blog post in under a week.

I think I’m getting the hang of this.  My next goals are to shower daily and actually FOLD the laundry.  At that point I should be able to qualify for the Motherhood Olympics.  I’ll probably win.  Unless there’s a swim suit competition.

Wherein I Do Not Cough Up A Baby

Once upon a time, there were two adorable boys sitting at a kitchen table eating breakfast.  The boys were cute.  Very cute.  And still quite young, only 2 and 3 years old.  Their names were Max (the three year old) and Mason (the two year old).  Because of their cuteness, their youth and the fact that they were supposed to be eating breakfast quickly before preschool, their mother was not at all prepared for the conversation Max initiated.  It went a little something like this…

Max:  Mommy?  How does Baby Marleigh come out of your tummy?

Me:  Well, when she’s big enough she’ll be born.  Then she’ll be out!

Mason: Yeah!

Max:  Yes, but…how does she GET out?  Like all the way out?

Me:  Oh.  Ummm…well…mommies have a special part of their body for babies to be born from.  So when it’s time, she’ll just come out of that part.

Max:  Ok…so…will she crawl up your throat and come out of your mouth to be born?

Me:  (WHAT. THE. FUCK. That’s…terrible.  Like I’m going to just cough up a baby one day?!  That’s possibly the ONLY thing I can think of more traumatic than vaginal birth!  Although, it IS kind of funny.  And really, he’s smart to think of that since he believes that the baby is in my tummy and he knows that throats connect to tummies, blah blah blah…)

Haha!  Well, no.  She will definitely NOT do that.  That’s just not something that is possible for babies.

Mason: …or safe!!

Me: (laughing…a LOT.)  Yeah, you’re right Mason.  It probably wouldn’t be very safe for babies to be born through throats and mouths.

Mason:  Yeah.  I know.

Max:  So then how will she be born?

Me:  You know how I said that mommies have a special body part for babies to come out?  Well, she will just come out of there when it’s time.  (Seriously?!  Am I going to have to talk about vaginas at breakfast?!  We’re leaving for school in five minutes.  What if he goes to school and starts telling all his friends about vaginas?  Will all the parents be mad?  Will his teacher wonder what the hell we’re talking about at home?  Where the hell is their Dad?!?!?!)

Max:  Ok.  So maybe you mean she’ll come out of something else, like…your belly button?

Me: (Realizing the kid is serious.  He will not be put off any longer.)  No honey, not my belly button.  Though I can see why you think that might make sense.  *sigh* Actually, you know how you have a penis and mommy does not?

Max: Yeah.

Me:  Well, the part that mommies have instead of a penis…that’s for having babies.  That’s where the babies come out.

Max: OH!!  You mean the black part?!

(I’d like to interject here.  I’m a natural brunette.  I DO keep certain things, ummm landscaped but I’m not so much a full brazilian wax kind of gal.  So, reading between the lines, perhaps you can see where he was going with that little comment…*ahem*….pardon me while I die a little inside…)

Me: (utterly defeated) Yes, you’re right.  The black part.  That’s where the babies come out.  (How is “the black part” better than vagina?  I should have just said, VAGINA! Now he’s going to be referencing pubes at school instead of genitalia.  Great.)

Max: Ok!   

Mason: Mama?  Did you put yogurt in my lunchbox?!

Me: Yes.  And I put bourbon in mine.  Now go find your shoes.

And that is how NOT to explain childbirth to your preschooler.