Our time spent living in our little paternity leave bubble is almost complete. Keith goes back to work tomorrow, and it has been wonderful having him home for the past two weeks. He has played a million and seven games of Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It and Connect Four with Henry, taken point for mostly all things Henry, attended doctor’s appointments, and swaddled and performed diaper changes whenever necessary for Elliot. In other words, he’s been a great dad who has worked hard during his leave time, which has not been a vacation.
This has allowed me to focus on my nursing relationship with Elliot; nursing on demand whenever he likes. I’ve also been sleeping as much as possible (but still not as much as I like/need) to be as rested as I can to survive the upcoming onslaught of having two kids demanding my time and attention simultaneously. I am definitely feeling intimidated by tomorrow, but Keith says I can do it so he must be right. It’s just going to be difficult at first until I get a routine going again. It will happen. Until that time, I have a team of awesome family and friends to help because it takes a village or something. Wish me luck.
Around midnight on the morning of the 13th, I started having regular cramping every ten minutes following a tiny bit of pink show. Since it was the middle of the night, I tried to get some rest (actually managed a few hours of sleep) and let Keith sleep all night (I waited until he got up for work to tell him). We made a plan to be in touch throughout the day, and he would come home whenever I thought contractions were strong enough for me to need him as my labor coach.
My parents arrived in town on Wednesday evening to help with Henry just in case I went into labor in advance of my due date since Tom and Margo had other extenuating circumstances this past week and couldn’t help as planned. Thank goodness they were here because I don’t know how I would have taken care of Henry otherwise. Henry and my dad set off on a bike ride to the park for the morning, and I ate breakfast and watched the season finale of Scandal with my mom. My contractions were regular throughout the morning, ranging from 7 to 11 minutes apart, with light intensity.
Around lunchtime, it was becoming more difficult to calmly breathe and speak through each contraction so I told Keith he needed to prepare to come home. I spoke with Midwife Vikki at the Birth Center around 1:55pm to let her know I was in early labor with contractions around 7 minutes apart and lasting for about 45 seconds each. We made a plan for me to call back when I was ready to come into the Birth Center once contractions were 4 minutes apart, lasting for a minute each. Keith came home immediately after I finished speaking with Vikki and I could finally let the contractions intensify. I think I was fighting them to a certain extent until he was ready, too (he had a sermon to write, after all).
I had an hour of intense contractions, lost my mucus plug, and followed by the loud pop of my water breaking around 2:50pm, which was when it got real. I thought all the contractions I had up to that point were hard and increasingly painful, but I didn’t know they would feel like nothing compared to the ones after my water broke. I immediately felt the worst pain of my life and felt the urge to push (something that never happened with Henry since I had an epidural). I told (maybe yelled at) Keith to load the car and call the Birth Center for me – the baby was coming. I don’t know who I spoke with at the Birth Center, but I pretty much just said my name, labor had intensified, my water broke, and I was coming in immediately.
Keith calmly put everything into the car, including the uninstalled car seat, and then looked around to see if we were forgetting anything. My dad told him to hurry up and go because it looked like I could have had the baby at home. Keith’s driving skills were definitely put to the test during our twenty minute or so car ride to the Birth Center. I’m sure there’s nothing like your wife having incredibly intense contractions every two minutes and trying not to push out a baby while telling you what lane you should be in to more efficiently get to the Birth Center. At one point, I ended up straight up biting my seatbelt during a contraction while waiting at a light for what felt like eternity (Ulmerton and Starkey, you suck). A super buff tattooed dude in a giant truck next to us saw me, and Keith said his reaction was hilarious. I wouldn’t know, but it felt like the right move to make at the time.
Once we arrived at Breath of Life, I waited in the car to complete a contraction, and Vikki met me in the parking lot to escort me inside. I had another contraction in the hallway and stopped to breathe through it. I made sure to warn Vikki there would be cursing during my labor process – I felt it was that important. We made it into the room, where she checked the heartbeat of our baby (sounded good) and then asked if I wanted to get into the tub. I said yes, of course, stripped, and climbed in at the start of another contraction.
Two pushes later, Elliot was born. Like Henry, he had the cord wrapped around his neck, but unlike the doctor who cut the cord immediately to unravel it, the midwives had me stand up so they could unwrap it and place Elliot on my chest. He had a hearty yell once the cord was removed and spent the first few hours of his life on either my or Keith’s chest, skin to skin. We did delayed cord clamping, and the placenta came out without incident. We stayed at the Birth Center until 10:30pm or so, stopped to get Twistee Treat (because I needed ice cream), and spent our first night as a family of four in our own home.
I am just so happy we decided to birth with the midwives at Breath of Life. They were such a calming presence and empowered me to make my own decisions about the birthing process, all while knowing my body was built to withstand and succeed at unmedicated, natural childbirth.
Total labor time: 15 1/2 hours.
Total time spent in labor prior to delivery at the Birth Center: 3 minutes.
Total recovery time spent at the Birth Center: 7 hours.
Welcome to the world, Elliot! We’ve been waiting for you to join us, and we’re so happy you arrived early on May 13, 2016, at 3:32pm, but perfect.
You’re so much smaller than your big brother – 18.5 inches long and weighing 6 pounds, 4 ounces – but you showed up a week earlier than he did so that makes sense.
You have such a strong sucking reflex, and you’re adapting to nursing like a champ – cluster feeding already. You love to be cuddled and worn in your Moby wrap, and would sleep on someone all the time if you possibly could. We know it’s early, but you have been so relaxed and chill, compared to Henry, I like the balance you’ve brought to our family so far.
We all love you so much, especially Henry. If he could love on you all the time I think he would. He has given you so many kisses, pats, and tickles and you’ve more than tolerated it – you’ve embraced it.
My little Henry is not so little anymore – “I’m getting bigger all the time, Mama!” I hear him say this, or some version of it, on the daily especially now that he has turned three. I have a three year old; it seems like he was just born while at the same time some days feel like they drag on for eternity. It’s strange how that happens.
We celebrated his birthday a day early with some family members and his favorite friends in our backyard with an Under the Sea theme. Keith rigged up a hose to mist water, splash-pad style, over a medium-sized kiddie pool and the kids LOVED it. Margo helped the little ones create an octopus art project and set up a fishing game, and they also had the opportunity to dig for buried treasure. There were giggles, conversation, food, and hugs. Henry said his favorite part was being with his friends and family. I don’t think the party could have been more fun, for him or for any of us.
On his actual birthday we did our regular church routine after eating a cupcake breakfast, he had his nap, and then played in his pool out back until bedtime. A pretty mundane yet epic way to spend the day. Like he says, “I want to do all the things I like to do.” And I think he managed to do it all.
We had his three year old check up with his pediatrician, Dr. Notter, and he is 39 3/4 inches tall and 33 1/2 pounds, making him in the 95th percentile for height and 55th percentile for weight. He’s perfectly growing on his curve, and brings us so much joy. Some things he is really into right now are kicking a ball around with his Daddy, building airplanes and vehicles with his Legos and magnetic blocks, and playing trains. Our little extravert, he loves going to the gym to see his friends, playing at playgrounds where there are kids, and dancing at the library. He also enjoys reading; some favorites include “The Giving Tree,” “The Day the Crayons Came Home,” and “The Lorax.”
He’s potty trained when he’s not sleeping, and can’t stop talking these days. It’s so nice to be able to have conversations with him about his day and ask him to describe what he wants using his words. I love this stage for the most part, except when he feels too overcome by his emotions and can’t control them (he tends to Hulk-out on us until he calms down). He takes one nap for 1.5 to 2 hours in the afternoon, and sleeps well at night when we’re at home (occasionally waking once to have us turn his pillow over or re-tuck him in). He misses us and wants to make sure we’re still here at night; one day he’ll stop doing this altogether and I look forward to it.
We set up a big boy bed in his room as his birthday gift (thanks to the Buda family for the frame, Oma & Opa for the mattress, and Keith for MaGuyver-ing the frame together), and he still looks small in it. I know one day he will be too big for it, but for now I’m happy he is still my little big boy.
I’ve hit the 37 week mark, so baby is officially (early) full term! He is the size of a winter melon, and like Henry keeps telling me, “I am three now so baby brother can pop out anytime!” Since that could totally happen (and he can now be born at Breath of Life), we should probably get our act together and prepare for this little one’s arrival.
Seriously, until yesterday all we had prepared was purchasing diapers and wipes. Oh, the joys of a second child. I had a panic moment when we couldn’t locate our infant car seat and base despite knowing it was around here somewhere. Keith found it after two trips into the hundred degree attic, in good condition. In less than stellar condition was Henry’s old baby swing, where he basically lived for his first few months of life. Thanks to the magic of Oxyclean and laundry detergent, it looks great, and is ready to be rebuilt with its new motor.
Today’s priority in terms of preparing for baby brother’s arrival is to pack my go-bag for the Birth Center. This really means packing bags for the entire family, including a cooler with snacks and drinks for the birth. Here’s my list of what I think will be helpful to have for childbirth and immediately thereafter, as well as my three guys’ must haves:
First up, my bag:
2 Bathing Suit Tops (for the birthing pool, in case I get out and want to get back in later)
2 Nursing Camisoles, Underwear, and Socks
Toiletries Bag with Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Shower Stuff, Hairbrush, Glasses, Makeup, Chapstick
iPhone and Charger
Depends and Always Maxi Pads
Nursing Pads & Lanolin
Keith’s Bag (letting him pack so not pictured):
Camera + Battery
iPhone + Charger (includes our labor playlist)
Change of Clothes
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Essential Oils (lavender, peppermint, orange)
Rice Sock Heating Pad
Going Home Outfit (pajamas or onesie)
Pair of Socks
Diapers and Wipes
Erythromycin Eye Medicine
Installed Car Seat
Gift for Big Brother Henry
Henry’s Bag for Oma and Opa’s House:
3 Outfits including Underwear
Diapers and Wipes
Bathing Suit (always a good thing to have in Florida)