Category / Baby

ONE in an instant.

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We didn’t go all-out on a party for Crew’s first birthday, but I did do a cake and a couple decorations as part of our one-year-later housewarming / new years day brunch with family and friends. It was fun to do a party with so many people (about 40 stopped by throughout the morning), something we haven’t had room in the past to host. Birthday photos of Crew ARE coming…just not in this post ha! He slept through nearly the first hour of the party, and then it was go-go-go. I always sigh and figure if I don’t have pictures from when something is actually happening, it’s a sign it was a good time. 🙂

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For the kiddos the bevvies includes chocolate milk shots…

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…and for the adults, mimosa and bloody mary bars.

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We had figured with so many parents of littles, we should stock up on coffee…but clearly this crowd was ready to drink. CHEERS! 😉

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We kept the food simple. Fruit and donut hole skewers, which I repeated after serving at a baby shower last month (SO easy, and pretty to display!)…

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…and sausage/egg/cheese breakfast enchiladas, which were still in the oven at photo-time 🙂

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Understandably, the bakery could only make me a “camera” cake, as opposed to the actual Instagram logo, but I added a little color once I got it home, to get it a bit closer. 😉

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Some Instagram prints, one for each week of his first year, were strung up as garland…

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…beginning with my last belly shot and his first photo at an hour old. #sob #washereallythatlittle

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Little camera viewfinder favors went home with the kiddos…

 

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…and I made a photo prop that we totally forgot to point out to people until the party was over! ha! IMG_5919

A definite success. It was a very sweet moment to hear everyone sing Happy Birthday to Crew (who grinned at all the attention!) and to be settled in our home, brunching with friends, was a perfect way to kick off the new year.

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Cheers to 2016!

new mama essentials.

with my newest love | 15 hours old
with my newest love | 15 hours old

I went through my fair share of “top ten” lists when thinking about stuff to stock at home, pre-delivery. Some of it I used, some of I didn’t, and some of it I discovered along the way.

I share my list of essential items here for mamas-to-be (and those shopping for them!). Some items have to do with the actual recovery, some are about general survival those first days and weeks. (As a note, mamas recovering from c-sections may have some different items that are most helpful, I can only speak for Baby arriving the ol’ fashioned way.) They aren’t the most exciting or adorable things to buy (for yourself or to gift), but you’ll never love anything more than the below items (and the comfort and relief they bring you in those first days!).

Soothies. I think one of the top surprises of this whole having-a-baby gig was the two other arrivals that require sudden and constant attention…Oh. YOU know. They hurt (a LOT), they leak, and they have to be tended to as often as your new bundle of joy. I remember more about the misery related to boobs than to the delivery recovery — they were pretty comparable! So to kick off my list, add these to your cart. And put them in your fridge between uses. And buy an extra set so you never have to be without the cold relief between those first ten days or so of nursing for more than a few seconds. Ahhh.

Lanolin. The hospital sent me home with an impossibly tiny tube of this stuff, so I promptly ordered more when I got home. Turns out, the tiny tube lasted long enough, but one way or another, make sure you have some on hand. The soothies take the cake as far as comfort, but this stuff helps, too, and you’ll want all hands on deck for relief.

Hot/Cold therapy pack. YES. Just…YES. To think I paused for a sec before buying these because it was yet ANOTHER 15 bucks in my Amazon cart. Good god, just buy them and forget about it. I used them both hot and cold (and will likely use them again if needed when I wean off nursing in a few months). Buy them without pause. Regret nothing.

Witch hazel pads and Dermoplast. I wasn’t kidding about the “not adorable” list of things to buy. But if the hospital doesn’t send you home with extra of either, your spouse’s first mission in life is to get to the pharmacy for these, stat. But stock up on pads ahead of time – because the man should get to keep a little dignity, even if yours is completely gone by now.

New pajamas. There’s something about wearing something new that makes you feel better, and what better time than when everyone wants a picture of you and the new baby and you are a total hot mess. At the same time, don’t spend a fortune…there’s a chance these end up stained, and will be too big anyway in a couple weeks’ time. While the first 24 hours, I wanted nothing to do with changing out of my hospital gown (too. much. work!), by day 2 I was ready to feel a little more human, and new pajamas helped me feel as fresh as is possible after just pushing another human out of you.

Etsy bath sachets. Just a hot bath with a little baking soda was all my doctor said I needed, and you’ll be thrilled and relieved to just get that. But, if you want something a little prettier to gift (to someone else, or yourself), these are awesome, and safe for use during recovery.

Ginormous water mug. Someone could make a killing designing these to be half as cute as the chic sports bottles we buy for the gym, but alas, these are pretty boring. The hospital gave me one that was 20 oz. and I think I had ordered this 32 oz. one before we even went home. I couldn’t believe how much water I could chug those first several days – you are constantly dying of thirst. Less refills means less getting up or having to ask someone for more all the time. And more on-hand to begin with encourages you to drink more overall. Granted, I donated mine after a few weeks because I had this whole patient/recovery association with it – ha! – but in those first couple weeks, it was one of my most-used items.

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EOS lip balm — not delivery related, but they are not kidding when they say the hospital is dry… Page and I both found our lips were raw within a few hours of checking in until the first couple days back home. I piled this on during the stay and in the following days at home.

Stuff for the new dad…dads, too, went through the crazy delivery, even if as a bystander, and are also functioning on less sleep as well, and trying to take care of everyone and play director to the nurses, doctors, and well-wishers. It may not be delivery, but it’s a lot. The caretaker needs to be taken care of, eventually! I made a point of having a lot of Page’s favorite, fast, snacks stocked in our pantry for those first days home (pistachios, cheeze-its, vitamin water, etc) and lots and lots (and lots) of his favorite coffee. He also scored some new lounge clothes from both our moms to wear during the hospital stay and those first days at home. He also ordered some Ugg slippers in time to wear in the hospital – a great call on the cold tile floors during our January stay.

Meals and Snacks. Food in general. I didn’t have freezer (or garage, or even Iowa winter patio!) space to stock much in the way of pre-prepared meals, but I did make a batch of spaghetti sauce with ground turkey to quickly throw over some noodles, and some enchilada filling to roll up in tortillas some night. I was super grateful to have both when we ended up reheating them. We also had many ready-to-eat meals delivered by family and friends. It hadn’t occurred to me to “schedule” these out, but many of our friends asked for a preferred night to bring them by. This allowed us to not have to store much, just have dinner ready to go, hot, each evening. We are blessed with family and friends who are great in the kitchen – breakfast burritos and quiche to maid rites and hearty soups – we were set for all meals of the day. Another idea? A gift certificate to a great Thai place that delivers. Just sayin. 🙂 Some friends of ours, knowing we had no room to stockpile food, gave us this instead of cooking, and it was one of the best meals we ate.

Some other favorites were the snackier things – you don’t always need a full meal, just something to munch at a 2am feeding. Energy bites, granola bars, and fresh fruit were all wonderful to receive. Whether it’s takeout or homemade, or just a bag of groceries, to have food arrive at your door and not have to think about what to get, is beyond heavenly.

Extra pillowcases. Pretty ones. About a week in for me, the night sweats – drenches – began. It’s miserable to get up in the night and your pillow is cold and wet. I bought a set of pillowcases that made me happy and added them to my daily laundry rotation of baby stuff and pajamas I inevitably sweat through, as well. Between the extras and the ones that matched our bedding, I always had a clean dry one on my nightstand to quickly swap out mid-night as needed.

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All of the under-eye products. All of them. I’m so glad I have pictures of Crew’s first days with me in them, but I also remembering the horror as I saw myself…dark circles and bags after laboring through the night and then having little sleep to catch up for days on end afterward. When you can’t get sleep, get the next best things. In the form of this (wear it under a little concealer), and this (dot it on OVER your concealer), and these. All worth it – I’m still using these weapons three months later because — spoiler alert — your nights are short and interrupted for quite a while.

A cleaning service. This makes a fabulous gift! I scheduled a deep clean of our home around the time Crew was about eight weeks. The idea of cleaning a whole house when I’d slept maybe a total of five hours a night (split up) for the past two months was just not on my list of things that were possible. I can always find room in the budget for this one, but especially post-babe. (But don’t schedule the first couple weeks home – you don’t want to bother with the whole “clean up so someone can clean” song and dance. Wait until you can get out for a couple hours of errands comfortably, then come home to clean-house-bliss.)

Anyone have others to add to this list? Leave them in the comments! I didn’t even touch on nursing tanks by the dozens and a Netflix subscription (both vital!). Hopefully this list helps a few others prep for those exhausting but awesome first days home doing little more than snuggling your new tiny family member!

Crew: Three Months!

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(Photo cred: Theresa Schumacher Photography)

Have you really been in our lives for a quarter of a year already? We’re approaching a whole year since we first knew you were on your way…time flies! Sometimes I’m amazed at how different our life looks compared to this time last year…new house, new family member, new work schedule, new priorities. This post turned out to be MUCH longer than the previous monthlies, but there’s more to talk about this time around, and I think I finally have more energy to expand on everything that’s happening in your world, in better detail!

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So. Much. Personality. If I had to describe you in three words – these are them. This has been a really fun month for not just getting some baby smiles, but real INTERACTION with you. You “talk” with us by babbling back to us if we say something, you smile and sigh at your dad’s funny faces, stick your lip out pitifully when something startles you, and follow us around the room with your gaze from wherever you’re perched. If someone new holds you, you adapt pretty easily, and even if you start to fuss if you have Mom in your view, you calm down pretty quickly. You love to snuggle but if there’s a lot going on, you NEED to be a part of it – turning you into toward our chests is a no-go and you don’t love being down on the floor, but prefer to face out/up/from higher spots in the room.

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You only have eyes for Dad in the early morning hours of the day and are SO close to laughing when he baby rough-houses with you. You greet either of us at the crazy hour of 5 or 6 am with the BIGGEST grins — we can (almost) forget how insanely early it is.

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You have developed into a super laid-back guy. You fuss only if you’re dirty or hungry, and cry hard only when it’s time for bed. You’re easily soothed, will take a bottle from anyone, and you take in new surroundings and situations with a wide-eyed but calm disposition. You are all in all a truly easy baby!

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Did I mention?? Every day, what little hair you have is turning a bit more red like your dad’s – I love it! You are definitely on track to be Pete and Repeat!

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You sleep exclusively in your crib now. (Can I get a halluluiah?!). It was a few long nights for you and me both, but you now go down (and back down all night long) easily. You then hit a growth spurt with only 1.5 to 2 hours stretches of sleep (nooooooo!), but are finally hitting a stride by sleeping from around 8pm to 12 or 1 in the morning, then waking between 3 and 4, and finally for the day around 6 if we’re lucky. This mama is TIRED (nursing at night), but I keep hearing from all directions that we are approaching the light at the end of the tunnel and any day now you’ll hit some even longer stretches at night. Fingers and toes are crossed…especially since I now have to get up and be at work some days – more on that in a separate post!

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Some things I don’t want to forget about this time right now: we are all (three!) obsessed with your super soft Kickee Pants pajamas and you are spoiled with way too many pairs, including some with whales that coordinate with your room (I die) and others with canoes and paddles, fit for a CREW man. 🙂

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You love, love, love “Leroy” as Dad has named him, your lamb pacifier animal. One night we couldn’t find him, and your dad and I slightly panicked until we did. The next day it was off to Buy Buy Baby for a stunt double, just in case!

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You love to look at yourself in the mirror, or more conveniently, in the reverse camera on our phones. Below is your very first selfie!! Dad took some video of you looking at yourself, too. Hil. ar. i. ous.

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Your hand-eye coordination still leaves much to be desired, but when you can get something in your line of sight, I swear this victorious look comes across your face ha!

Crew with O-Ball (click to view clip)

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You are more tuned in to things we show you and really LOOK at them. Storytime is becoming more fun.

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I went back to work this week, part-time, alternating two and three days each week. This also means you started going to a babysitter’s for the same amount of time. With two little girls of her own, we know this will be a great experience for you – enough kid to adult ratio that we know you’ll get held and spoiled lots but also that you’ll soak up so much new stimulation from the new faces, environment, and different pace of activity. (As evidenced in this pic texted to us on the first day to ease our nerves!)

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Day care is more and a different kind of stimulation than we can give you at home, and allows me to get a change of pace throughout the week as well. I’m hoping the new flexibility in my schedule also allows me to continue to grow ClickSmith by incorporating some weekday session availability. This first week in our new life after maternity leave has truly felt good, and while I miss getting to smooch you whenever I please, I know it’s good for us both to have a little time apart and going to work is, in a lot of ways, a break and as I made my first post-leave commute last week with a mocha in hand and tunes blaring, it was one of the first times I truly felt like my old self!

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I don’t know if it’s the transition into more “normal” permanent life routine going forward, or coming out of the all-consuming newborn phase (or maybe both), but I suddenly am doing a lot of looking ahead. Our brains have adjusted and we can think beyond you to other things again ha! We are ready to employ our list of sitters and get back to some “just us” time, and find some balance between being spouses and also being parents, which is getting easier as we get to know you better and aren’t feeling so much like we’re driving without an owners manual. 🙂 I’m excited for the family trips we’ll take this year, first holidays we’ll spend with you, diving into milestones like first foods, and continuing to watch this little personality of yours develop as you learn every day. My mom said something to you when you were brand new that has stuck with me and rings so true… I didn’t even know I needed you…but I do. You have been such an awesome addition to our world and little family and you make us so, so happy. Three month hugs to you, baby boy.

Love, Mom <3

Crew: Two Months!

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And just like that…our buddy is two months old.

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I’m sure the time has been even more accelerated with all the to-dos associated with packing, moving, and now settling in, but they aren’t kidding when they say babies grow SO fast!

In the past month, we officially moved in and Crew gained a room of his own (which he now sleeps in at night, still in the Rock ‘n’ Play but we’re transitioning to his crib). Building the crib was a fun, delayed-nesting-gratification activity for Page and me both. Moving him into his room was a bit like bringing him home all over again. 🙂 I’m pulling together the final details in his nursery and will do a post on his adventurous room, soon! IMG_1978

As you can see, this smart cookie is smiling all day long. He is babbling and LOVES diaper change time and “spa time” as we call it, since he blisses out when it’s time to bathe, have his hair washed, etc. He’s calm now when he spends little stretches of time on his own in the swing, on the floor, or in our bed, and he still LOVES to crane his neck up and stare down the ceiling fans, trim, beams — basically any house fixtures.

At his two-month check, Crew is 11.6 pounds (up 3 pounds from his two-week visit!) and 22.75 inches long (two inches gained!). With a little more than three weeks left on maternity leave, I’m excited to introduce him to his sitter (and her little girls, who I’m sure will make great helpers!), take way more pictures of his changing-every-day little features, and of course gets lots of snuggles in.

We can’t believe this tiny person has been in our lives for a full two months, and it’s in this most recent one that he feels more like a real person and that I “know” him. So much fun. We love you, Buddy!

Crew: One Month!

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With all the unpacking on top of caring for our little guy, Crew’s first monthly post is coming just a few days shy of his TWO month birthday ha! We will get on track…eventually. 🙂

In some ways, the first month lasted forever, and in others, it absolutely FLEW by. Perhaps of most importance, we all survived! At one month, he loves the ceiling fan and hates diaper changes, makes hilarious faces, snores LOUDLY when he sleeps and snorts just as loudly when he eats, loves to be swaddled but HATES his arm movement restricted, is constantly flashing jazz hands and opening/closing them, and even when there’s a pacifier in his mouth, he is cooing and groaning his side of the conversation to us all day long.

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To recap the first month, the first couple days home were rough because we had to keep taking Crew into the pediatrician’s office for Jaundice monitoring. Aside from testing his blood, they were also closely monitoring his weight loss and diaper counts, since a side effect of Jaundice is that it makes babies only want to sleep and consequently not eat much during those crucial first days. First journeys out with a baby are nervewracking to begin with, but more so when it’s in bitter winds and negative temperatures (with no garage and a wind tunnel apartment building to navigate), and when the destination ends each time in your sweet pea screaming while they poke his heel yet again for more blood. Add in new mom, sleep-deprived, hormones and I was a blubbering mess. And poor Page was just trying to hold it together for everyone. It was a new kind of stress that we both managed in our own ways, and we had to learn what worked for the other.

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Fortunately, the clouds parted pretty quickly and after a couple visits back, they finally declared the Crew man out of the woods and we could just stay home for a couple of days and work on a bit of a routine, rest, and recovery. Page’s parents came to visit as we turned this corner, and it was a nice break to have someone step in and help a little, as I ended up needing a couple days in bed or on the couch, trying to get back on track with healing. We were so preoccupied with getting HIM well, that I admittedly forgot to still think of myself as a patient as well and my body responded. By the time Crew was a week old, everyone was starting to feel more like themselves and the second week flew by with visits (and MUCH appreciated meals) from friends, a couple more positive outings, the ability to start focusing again on real life (primarily…the house!) and a visit from my mom and brother.

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Your body does adjust to the lack of sleep and I’m constantly learning to be patient with myself as my to-do lists get checked off, albeit slower than I would like. There was a lot to do with the days counting down until our move and I’m not one to sit around anyway (Page says I’ve always been bad at relaxing and vacationing ha!). My way of enjoying this time has been to make it productive and keep stress off Page’s plate as he ran point on just about all aspects of our lives during those first weeks as a family of three.

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Despite this funny picture of his squawk, I’m happy to report that Crew is a pretty easy baby. He took very quickly to nursing, even with his somewhat rough start to eating. Thanks to his appetite, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight after a couple weeks post-delivery, although my core was definitely softer than before ha – I was cleared for workouts last week, and am anxious to start toning up and I’d love to continue to lose some additional weight I’d planned to drop prior to becoming pregnant. For now, I’m just focusing on eating healthy and getting rest while settling into our new home environment.

Back very soon with Mr. Crew’s TWO (!!!!) month update!

just the two of them.

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“From the first time the doctor placed you in my arms
I knew I’d meet death before I’d let you meet harm…

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I pledge to you, I will always do
Everything I can, show you how to be a man…

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Always tell the truth, say your prayers
Hold doors, pull out chairs, easy on the swears
You’re living proof that dreams come true
I love you and I’m here for you.”

(Just the Two of Us — Will Smith)

THIS GUY is holding life together for us in these early days, looking after both of us, managing the latest at the house, booking movers, gathering everything for our mortgage to close, going back to work, and most importantly, being an AWESOME daddy – a total natural.

Crew and I are beyond lucky to have this guy!

Crew’s birth story.

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Like a lot of mamas-to-be, I found myself reading birth stories on the blogs of some of my favorite authors, and on pregnancy/baby blogs, to get a better feel of what I might expect when D Day arrived.

If nothing else, by reading a variety of birth stories, you solidify your understanding that there is NO way to know what will happen, and that each birth is truly unique. I think it’s easy to do TOO much reading, or psych yourself out about all the possibilities. I read some, and then quit reading them as the time got closer, focusing on the best possible outcomes, and keeping a flexible, open mind (we didn’t have a birth plan) that it would go however it would go, when the time came.

All that said, I want to share my story because it was, in all, a very straightforward and happy story delivery – don’t get me wrong, still painful and had its crazy moments and surprises, but in all, about as “easy” as can be. I think it’s important to read stories like those, to remind you that it’s not always guaranteed drama and scariness and emergency c-sections. I appreciated reading stories more like mine happened to turn out, and focused on those, versus the scarier versions. To each their own of course, but that was how I kept myself mentally ready and positive going into this!

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

We’d spent our morning lounging in bed with coffee and HGTV (like we need ANY more house project inspiration right now!). Page headed over to the house to work on our wardrobes a little before 2pm, and I pulled a bunch of clothes out of the dryer to fold. I was standing there in our living room just about to get started when suddenly…gush. I thought I had peed my pants! I hadn’t had any bladder issues the whole pregnancy, and I was instantly annoyed to think I most certainly had a couple weeks to get through yet, and now I was full-on wetting my pants without any notice? How would I go to work (or even walk across a room?!) if this were to be my life for the coming several days?

I changed my pants and went back to the laundry. Again…gush! Hmm, okay. Could this possibly be my water breaking? I wasn’t at ALL uncomfortable, or having contractions. So I called the nurse line (of course it was a Sunday and my doctor’s office was closed) and tried not to be annoyed with the nurse receptionist, who first asked me the reason for my call (um, I think my water broke but I’m not sure?), but then four questions later, asked me if I was pregnant. (Seriously?!) This exchange was one of the only negative experiences, but it was certainly not the way to start out for a first time mama unsure if she’s in labor ha!

I was told to go to Labor & Delivery downtown to be checked out and have the fluid tested. I called Page over at the house, who excitedly told the carpenter in the background, “Her water broke!”. I immediately hissed at him not to tell anyone, because I was still sure I just had an accident and didn’t want to sound the labor alarm only to admit later I didn’t know the difference between water breaking and peeing my pants!

We debated bringing our bags (and thankfully did) and drove to the hospital around 4pm. I mentioned to Page that my lower back was suddenly bothering me a little. We checked into a triage room and waited to have the fluid tested, while they hooked me up to a contraction monitor and heart rate monitor for baby. Boom. I was at four centimeters, it was indeed amniotic fluid, and the monitor was showing contractions — I just couldn’t yet feel them. We had a silly moment of “so…do we stay here or go home?”. I think the nurse tried not to laugh as she said, “Oh no, we’re getting a room ready for you right now. You’re having a baby today.”

"you're having a baby today"
“you’re having a baby today”

As we waited for our room to be ready, the backache became more nagging and came and went, as I started feeling the contractions. It was manageable and we got settled into our room and texted the parents that it was game time…by sending a pic of my hospital bracelet, and this funny picture of Page:

It's go time!
It’s go time!

From 7 to 9 or so I worked through the contractions on my own with Page’s support and our FANTASTIC nurse, who was there from start to finish. I was trying to get to five or more centimeters before asking for my epidural (not for any strong reason, just a personal goal). I was told it was a slow night on the floor so when I was ready, it likely wouldn’t take long for the anesthesiologist to show up.

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By the time the contractions made me stop talking and close my eyes to get through them, I asked for the drugs. As it turned out, (full moon that night!), two emergency c-sections took place during my request, and then a second-time mom arrived nearly ready to deliver. (I know first-time moms don’t progress as quickly…but don’t tell us someone is jumping the line in front of us – ha!) At any rate, it was over two hours before Rockstar Nurse nearly bullied them into sending another on-call anesthesiologist and that we were done waiting. I remember her asking me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten and I asked if ten was wanting to jump out the window, and if so, I was at an 8 or 9. I was holding onto the bed handle with a death grip to breathe through the waves of pain when the anesthesiologist walked in, still taking off her coat as she talked me through what would happen.

Page watched the whole thing but because my ligaments were especially tough, it took a few tries to get the epidural in just right, at one point putting it down a vein. Ouch. The whole time, I was hunched over and told not to move, even through the contractions. I’m still not sure if it was my anxiety or being hunched over for so long as they tried to get it right, but Crew’s heart rate dropped drastically and I remember the room suddenly having more people in it, as they rolled me onto my side and started putting more monitors on me. He recovered quickly and the scary moment passed, as my epidural started to take over. It was nearly midnight, I was at seven centimeters, and we were wiped. We were told I’d be checked in two hours and to try and rest. I think we both passed out within seconds.

Two hours later, our nurse came in to check us, and asking if I was feeling any pressure. Um, yes. She was preparing me that it could still take a bit, but after the check she laughed and said, “oh, you’re ready to push!”. It was at that moment that I freaked a little…everything to this point had been manageable, but something about this final stage made me super anxious. It was almost 4am, and Page grabbed a quick cup of coffee as the room was transitioned into a delivery room.

time for coffee!
time for coffee!

To my surprise, the next phase was very calm and quiet – just our nurse, me, and Page, doing the initial pushes to the timing of the contractions. To Page’s surprise, after we had discussed him staying near my head when delivery time came, he was asked by the nurse to grab a leg and that he had work to do! In retrospect, Page said it was terrifying in the moment, but now he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I remember being SO hungry and tired at this point that I’d do a push, then close my eyes and nearly sleep between each one. After about an hour of pushing, our nurse called for the OB on call. She came in and asked me to do one practice push as she gloved up across the room. I had to laugh when her eyes went a little wide and she said, “Okay, never mind, stop pushing!”. She got into place and two pushes later, our world changed forever.

meeting my new love.
meeting my new love.
instantly in love.
instantly in love.

We are so lucky and blessed that all in all, it was a smooth delivery and everyone is happy and healthy. We still can’t believe this little peanut is ours to keep!