Life on maternity leave the third time around

Ah, maternity leave. How I love thee.

A chance to check out a real life, be home and just soak in my sweet baby. I’m five weeks into my leave, with seven weeks left. I’m enjoying it SO much.

This leave has been very different than my last two, and in different ways. I think when people picture maternity leave, they picture lazy days spent napping and snuggling one’s little baby, but I’ve quickly learned that that scenario is really only possible with your first baby. On my 13 weeks off with Henry, I spent probably 75% of my time on the couch, nursing, letting him nap on me, and watching Gilmore Girls. All seven seasons, straight through. It was lazy and completely blissful.

My leave with Ben was the polar opposite from that – not lazy, not blissful, and honestly, not really that enjoyable at all. Having two kids rocked my world and I was so severely sleep-deprived. I only had Henry in daycare two days a week, and I had to do all the transportation on those days, cutting my time with just Benny fairly short. The time I did have to snuggle and spend with my sweet Ben was awesome, but I feel like I didn’t get much time to do that.

This time around has been anything but lazy – quite the opposite, really – but it’s also been pretty darn blissful. There’s not a ton of just sitting on the couch and taking it easy, or even just getting outside and taking leisurely walks, and I fear I may look back one day and regret that, but I’m just not good at ‘down time’ these days. My to-do list is eight miles long and it drives me kind of crazy to feel like I’m not getting those things done. Even though I know, I know – babies don’t keep, and I do soak in my sweet Ellie every second I can. She sleeps a lot, of course, and often I’ll wear her in the Moby while I’m on the computer or doing something around the house, just so we can be close.

Life is just different now, with a house and two other kids to take care of, a new business with It Works that I’m working hard to build, a nonprofit, a blog, and about a thousand more things to take care of and manage than I had even five years ago. And that’s ok. It’s overwhelming at times, but this is how I prefer life to be – big and full and busy. And then when the quiet, calm moments come, I take a deep breath and enjoy them.

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Since my recovery was so easy this time, since I’m sleeping more than I did with my last two newborns (though still not enough!), and since this time of year is just so gorgeous, I’ve been out and about much more during this leave than with my last ones.

I wish there were more hours in the day, but that will never change, I suppose. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll manage it all once I’m back to work, but then I realize that so much will actually be easier. Right now I’m home all day and can’t ignore the messes and dirt and house stuff that needs attention. When I’m back at work I can ignore them, and/or Shelly will take care of some of them. Right now it’s easy to get interrupted when I need to call for an appointment or pay a bill or do something on the computer. I have to really plan for when I’m going to take a shower, between Henry’s school times, Shelly times, when the baby needs to eat, when we have plans, etc. When I’m back at work, I just need to shower when I wake up, no questions asked!

But it’s been really awesome so far, and I’m super lucky that I’m able to have part-time childcare for the boys during my leave. I have all the kids home with me on Mondays and Fridays, and while I still contend that this transition from two to three has been SO much smoother than the transition from one to two, it’s still a tall order taking care of three young kids all day. I am enjoying the extra time with my boys, though, too.

Shelly takes the boys on Tuesday afternoon and then all day on Wednesday and Thursday. Those days with just Ellie are so quiet and lovely! And Shelly does all the transportation, too, except when Dave picks the boys up on Wed/Thurs. She even comes back at mid-day to get Henry after school so I can stay put with the baby. It’s amazing, to say the least! And it’s been so nice to be able to chat with her and have her hold Ellie and see how much she’s changing. Going back to work after having a baby is never easy, but it sure will be easier knowing that Ellie will be home and with someone who already cares about her so much!

I have about five more blog posts I want to compose, so I’ll leave this one at that. I know I wanted to get down how this maternity leave has been going, and how busy and different it’s been from my previous two, and how much I’m enjoying it, especially knowing it’s my last one. It feels so luxurious and incredible to be off work for an extended amount of time! Especially in the fall, and especially with a sweet newborn baby girl to hang out with all day. I love it.

Ellie is five weeks old

Ellie’s Newborn Photos

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Even though she gave birth to her baby boy two days before I gave birth to Ellie and is technically on maternity leave, my lovely friend Andrea still agreed to take Ellie’s newborn photos for us a couple weekends ago when Ellie was 2 1/2 weeks old. The results are beautiful and I’m so appreciative that Andrea captured our baby girl at such a sweet time in her little life!

Of course, it’s eternally funny to me how these family photos we take can’t and don’t really tell the story of real life, of what’s happening just outside the frame. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then all that is just outside the space and time of that one captured millisecond is worth about a million of them. These photos are filled with beauty and peace and serenity … and yet (inevitably, I suppose) the reality of the 2 1/2 hour shoot was anything but!

Andrea and I both had new babies to contend with – her with her hungry and wanting-to-be-held Sammie, and me with my girl who just wanted to be awake and squirmy when we needed her to be sleepy and cooperative. Andrea and I both had to take breaks to nurse and to soothe our babes. The boys were loud and active and had to be wrangled for the photos. Henry smiled his new fake smile when all I wanted him to do was smile normally. And I felt less than glowing in my postpartum state.

But alas, we ended up with gorgeous pictures we’ll cherish. I especially love the ones of just Ellie, who is so precious and already looks different today than she did in these photos. The newborn stage is so fleeting and I’m grateful we were able to capture it.

And one very real thing that these photos capture is just how much we all adore this new family member of ours.

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Photos taken September 14
2 weeks, 4 days old

Ellie at 2 1/2 weeks old – Our dream boat baby

Camera Roll-454Ellie is 17 days old already!

The time has gone fast, though at the same time, her birth seems really long ago, and life before her already feels like a different lifetime. Either way, she’s growing and growing, and I’m doing all I can to savor this precious time with my last newborn!

Thankfully, I have been able to enjoy these first weeks the most out of all my babies. I joked while pregnant about getting an ‘easy’ baby, but I never thought it would happen. I fully expected to be pretty miserable these first few weeks with the recovery, and to be really sleep-deprived for a good six months or a year, as I was when my boys were babies. And who knows, that part may still happen! But right now? I’m tired, but I’m sleeping more with a two-week-old than I was when either of my boys were several months old. It’s amazing.

Ellie is a dream. I look at her and I can’t really believe she’s mine, that I have a daughter. She’s just so beautiful and SWEET and easygoing. Again, of course she’s just a newborn still. But I can hope this bodes well for her overall personality and demeanor as she grows!

I have a list next to me here of things I want to remember about this stage, and one of the them is “doesn’t cry much.” Yesterday, of course, she had a few crying jags that lasted several minutes – by far the longest she’s ever cried before. So maybe she is waking up to the world and will start crying and voicing her opinion more – only time will tell. But so far, she’s truly barely cried. She’ll cry for a few seconds but can be easily consoled, and even when she does cry, it’s more like adorable little yells than all-out crying. One noticeable instance of the not crying is when I wake up with her in the middle of the night. She squawks and grunts a bit, and I go in there and I have to change her diaper before I feed her. I remember my boys crying through that pre-feeding diaper change every single time – they were hungry! But little miss E just shows her impatience by grunting a little and once in awhile letting out a little whine. (Though last night she did cry while I changed her diaper – this honeymoon phase may be nearing its end!)

I think her biggest “issue” is her little digestive system not working so well just yet. She gets really uncomfortable after feedings, and she spits up SO MUCH. Oh my gosh, the spit-up. I think she pukes about five times after each feeding. She goes through sleepers and outfits like nobody’s business. I am continuously covered in spit-up. And sometimes it’s A LOT of spit-up. I’m like, dude, that’s half of what you just ate, what a waste! So during the day she will sometimes eat every hour or two, since she can’t keep that little belly full!

She also sneezes quite often (so cute) and gets the hiccups several times each day, like violent hiccups. Both boys were on baby Zantac for reflux from a pretty early age – we’ll see at her one-month check-up if I’ll be 3 for 3 with medicating my babies for reflux.

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The actual nursing though is going so, so well. She’s a champ, latching right on and just eating away. (Though she does fall asleep on the boob so fast most times, so she’ll often only nurse for 5-10 minutes at a time – another reason, probably, that she wants to eat so often.)

I remember recently seeing Halle Berry on Ellen and her talking about the difference between her daughter when she was a baby and now her new son when it came to nursing. She said her daughter would just be sweet and gentle and suckle away, and now her son was like a monster, just attacking her boob and wanting to wolf down his milk. Obviously I had nothing to compare my boys to up til now, but what she explained holds true over here, too! I can’t get over just how dainty and gentle she is when she nurses. It’s the sweetest thing. Being able to nurse a baby again is just amazing, and I can’t get enough of watching her and touching her amazingly long hair and chubby little cheeks as she nurses.

Camera Roll-520And still so far, so good in the sleep department. The girl SLEEPS. She sleeps much of the day, giving us a few periods of awake, alert time, which we all love. The boys will say “Mom! Ellie’s awake!!” and run over to her. She has most of her awake time in the late evening, of course, when we’re both tired and just want to relax a bit. But once she falls asleep again around 9 or 10 or 11 p.m., she sleeps.

Every night has been slightly different, but she gave us 4.5-hour stretches almost immediately, and that’s only improved. The past week she’s awakened just once in the night most nights. One night was twice – 12:45 and 4:45 – but I also hadn’t fed her before going to bed myself that night since she was sleeping. Most other nights it’s just once, but the time varies. 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. One night she made it til nearly 5 a.m. The sleeping is insane and I will TAKE it, even though my poor boobs are on the verge of exploding every night. And I’ve never had supply issues, but it worries me to think that it may affect my supply if she doesn’t eat all night most nights. The one trade-off to the once-per-night wakings right now is that two recent nights she had me up for more than an hour each time, which just seems excessive. Though I do remember plenty of those nights with the boys, too. When she wakes up for a second feeding in the early morning hours, like around 5 or 6, I’ve been bringing her into our bed so I can nurse her lying down and then snuggle til it’s time to get up.

Of course, I’ve had this post started in my drafts for three days now, and had I posted it sooner, all would have still been magical. But I had my first real ‘low’ point just last night, and I imagine more will come as this girl grows! She slept aaaaaaall day and evening yesterday, and then woke up around 8 p.m. – and would not go back to sleep. By 10 p.m. I was exhausted and so ready for bed, and she’d spit up on me so much and I was just frozen to the bone sitting on the couch with her. Dave was out grocery shopping and the boys were in bed, obviously. She was fussy and super uncomfortable, so I walked and bounced with her, nursed her a lot, changed a few diapers … still she just stayed awake. I finally took her upstairs around 10:30 and took a hot bath to warm up, her in the bouncy seat next to me in the bathroom. She sucked on her nuk and stayed pretty content – though Henry’s getting sick and whined for me once, and Dave wasn’t home yet, so I had to get out dripping wet and go comfort him, which was annoying. After my bath, we got into her room around 11 p.m. and I nursed her again, and STILL she wouldn’t sleep. By 11:45 p.m. I was feeling just deliriously tired, having been up since 6 a.m. for the day and being home with all the kids all day. I put her down just before midnight and prayed she’d sleep, and I got all pissy at Dave, not that any of it was his fault, just saying how DONE I was for the night. I crawled into my bed and cried for a minute at how tired I felt!

Obviously this wasn’t *that* bad and I’ve had much worse moments with the boys and being super exhausted. But I’ve been spoiled these past two weeks, and I was just so tired! She was up to eat at 2 and 5, but went back to sleep both times pretty easily. And since today’s Saturday, I could lay in bed til 7:30 with Ellie while Dave got up with the boys at 6 a.m. (They always wake up earlier on weekends, it’s ridiculous.)


Everyone in our family continues to be nuts about her. Dave is adorable with her – it’s pretty fun to see him with a little girl! Of course, it helps that she’s such a good baby, too. Henry and Ben are so engaged with her, wanting to help out, wanting to see her and talk to her and hold her and help feed her if I’ve pumped a bottle. It’s very sweet. That’s another thing to note – we introduced a bottle probably over a week ago and she took it with no problem, and she’s had probably 4 or 5 bottles total now. I even pumped before we went to the farmer’s market Saturday morning last weekend and gave her a bottle myself when we were there. I love nursing, but I sure do also appreciate how convenient pumping can be.

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Before she was born, I wasn’t sure what we’d call her. We were all leaning toward Ellie and the boys were already calling her that, but I wasn’t sure it would feel “right.” But it does. I’ve always loved the name Ella, but it doesn’t fit her at all, I’ve found. Henry calls her that once in awhile but I don’t think it’ll ever stick. We call her Eleanor sometimes, and I still do love her full name, but she just seems like an Ellie. It fits her perfectly. I call her “Ellie Belly” a lot, or even Ellie Belly Jelly Belly. The boys call our nanny, Shelly “Shel-Bell” since she’d mentioned that that’s what her last family’s kids called her, so now I’ve been calling Ellie “Elle-Bell.” Those are pretty much her only nicknames so far. She gets a lot of “sweetie” and boy do I tell her a lot how beautiful and perfect she is to me – I just can’t help it. And I never tire of calling her “my girl.” My GIRL! It’s surreal still that I have a daughter. I adore it.

I’m taking tons of pictures of her, since she’s beautiful, duh, and since she’s just changing so fast! She looks so different in every picture I take, it seems.

And finally, that new baby smell? Come on, now. I cannot smell her head enough, kiss her face enough, breathe in her sweet milky breath enough. And the noises they make? Babies sure are something special.

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A few things I also don’t want to forget … she had her first doc appointment at one week old and got her Hep B shot that we delayed at the hospital. Always brutal, she cried hard!! She weighed 7 lbs, 14 oz. at her one-week appointment, so she was almost back up to her birth weight. At her two-week check-up, she’d grown an inch since birth (21.5 inches) and was up to 8 lbs, 5 oz. I know my boys gained quite a bit more than that in their first couple weeks – maybe a boy thing, or maybe Ellie just spits up too much to be gaining as much! But it’s wild to look at her and know Henry weighed more than that when he came out, and she’s already more than two weeks old. I do feel like I’m getting more little, teeny baby time than I got with my boys, which is really nice, since they grow SO fast as it is!

Anyway, life is good around here 2 1/2 weeks in with our baby girl. Henry is loving school, Benny is adorable (and a total handful), and I’m thankful as heck to be feeling so good and to have Shelly taking the boys 2 1/2 days each week. Those days at home with just my girl are completely blissful. I’ve had lots of visitors and the social schedule continues to fill up, which is fun – though I’m trying to not over-schedule so that I can just have days to relax, too!

We have our newborn pictures with Andrea here at the house tomorrow morning, which I’m very excited about. The weather is getting chillier, which is both exciting and a bummer … I love fall but oh, I’m not ready for this beautiful summer to be over already! And I gotta say, it’s an amazing feeling to know I don’t go back to work til mid-November, and it’s only mid-September right now.

Pretty special and irreplaceable time going on right now. I’m soaking it up as much as I possibly can.

Henry is one month away from five years old (!)
Benny is 2 years, 7 months old
Ellie is 17 days old
Three kids. I love it so much. :)

Ellie’s Birth Story

Eleanor Claire
Born 8/27/14 at 39 weeks, 1 day
Birth story posted 9/4/14 at 8 days old

Having been through this birth thing three times now, I just can’t get over how every experience is so different, and how up until it all goes down, there’s just no telling how it’ll happen!

Ellie’s birth was my wildest, my fastest and my most painful. I can’t say it was my most enjoyable birth since one big part of the experience – the pushing her out – was completely skipped. But because she came so fast, the recovery has been by far my easiest – I can’t believe how good I feel, and have felt from the day she was born. That has had a HUGE impact on my ability to really enjoy these precious first days with my last baby, and I am so thankful for that.

But let me back up!

The day of Ellie’s birth started, of course, like any other day. It was a Wednesday, I was in my final week of work no matter what, and I was just d-o-n-e when it came to actually working. I had our weekly directors’ meeting that morning for nearly three hours, which was a good thing since sitting at my desk had become a whole lot of me doing nothing for the past few days. I remember when I got dressed that morning, I had initially put on black capris and a blue top, but then I decided that I wasn’t going to be pregnant much longer, so I might as well get another wear out of my favorite piece of pregnancy clothing – my striped maxi skirt, which I paired with a black tank top. No belt today – I instead opted for a big necklace. I sat in the meeting and felt cute in my skirt, and I enjoyed feeling the baby move inside my belly as I half paid attention to what was being said. I shifted positions a few times since sitting for any length of time had become uncomfortable. Someone asked if I was ok and I said yes, just a little uncomfortable. I really did feel good up til the very end. I think I got up to pee about three times during our three-hour meeting, too.

I didn’t take a belly pic that day, so this one I took the day before is the last one I have, I think!

Camera Roll-166After the meeting, I ate the lunch I brought and then was off to my weekly doctor’s appointment at 1:45 p.m. I turned off my office light and wondered, as I had every time I left work for the past two weeks, if I’d be back. I already suspected that I’d probably just head home after my appointment, not because I’d be in labor but because I just didn’t feel like working the rest of the afternoon!

At the appointment, I asked the doc to sweep my membranes so that hopefully things would get moving in the next few days. I so wanted to have the baby by Saturday or so in order to be back home by Henry’s first day of school on Tuesday. She checked me and said I was 3 cm dilated and about 70% effaced, so she’d sweep “what was left of my membranes.” She said she’d be really surprised if I didn’t give birth within a day or two, but to call her Friday morning to schedule an induction for the following week if I hadn’t already given birth.

I walked back to my van in the parking garage, still not sure if I’d go back to work or head home. I texted the girls to let them know how I was progressing, and then I called my mom to give her the update. I was driving now – heading home – and already having some pain from the sweep. It was the night of Henry’s school open house, during which he’d see his classroom and meet his teacher and have his picture taken, and I had been so looking forward to it. I told Mom to be on standby in case she had to leave work and come to us and take Henry to his open house, since I would not have him miss it!

I got home around 2:30 and was now having some consistent pain and cramping. I went up to the bathroom to pee and there was blood in my pad. The doc offered me a pad after my exam and I almost turned it down, but she said just take it – and I’m glad I did! I was excited to see blood and that’s when I realized this may very well be happening today. I had told Henry that maybe we’d take a walk together before I laid down, but the pain was becoming so bad that I told him we couldn’t go for a walk. (Ben was napping at this time.) Upon hearing that, he freaked out and started crying and got really mad at me. Shelly and I both tried to explain to him that mom was having contractions and would probably have the baby soon, and I think he started to get scared in addition to being mad. He just wouldn’t calm down – Shelly had never seen him act that way before, and really, I’m not sure I had, either. I felt bad for him, but there wasn’t much I could do.

I called Dave around 3 p.m. and told him to come home from work now. Then I called mom to tell her she had to leave work please now, too. Then I called Dad and Barb to give them the heads-up, since I wanted one or both of them to come over and be with Ben while Mom took Henry to his open house. It sure takes a village, doesn’t it?! So thankful for our village.

When I hung up with everyone I thought, hmm, I sure hope this isn’t a false alarm, now that everyone’s on the move because of me! But it was pretty clear that it wasn’t a false alarm. I put all my last-minute toiletries in my bag, and Shelly got me a glass of water. I breathed through the contractions and started to feel a little scared – holy crap, this was really happening.

Dave got home around 3:45 and we left right away. Ben was still sleeping, but I gave Henry a big hug and told him to have fun at his open house with grandma and to tell me all about it when I saw him next. He’d calmed down thankfully and I think was just pretty surprised now by everything that was happening. Dave and I made it the hospital right around 4 p.m., and when the valet opened my door, I had to get through a contraction before getting out of the van. He went to get a wheelchair, and I sat down and Dave wheeled me to the elevators. I snapped a picture of us once we were on the delivery floor – we were going to have a baby!

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We checked in at the desk and they got us situated in a triage room. I took off my pants and got a gown on and laid down, having very regular and pretty painful contractions now.

A nurse came in and we had to fill out a form, which was annoying, and I told her right away that I wanted an epidural, like, as soon as possible, since last time I’d asked for one and it took 45 minutes to arrive and by the time I got it, I was 10 cm and ready to push. I didn’t really want to experience that much pain this time if I didn’t have to! She was relatively nice about it but basically told me to cool my jets, that they had to check me, and then they had to get a bag of fluids in me, and then they could order it once I was checked into a room and progressing enough. Gahhhhh.

She checked me and told me that I was still only 3 cm, which I’d been at my appointment, and that they couldn’t check me into a room until I progressed more. I was having such pain already that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t progressed any more yet! I felt sort of panicky at the idea of having to labor in that triage room with no epidural in sight, but there wasn’t much I could do. I did get an IV at this point, I think, so that at least I’d be ready for the epidural when it was time. So I laid there and breathed through each contraction, closing my eyes and squeezing the bed rail with one hand and Dave’s hand with the other. This was actually my first birth where I held Dave’s hand – with the others I didn’t want to be touched at all – and he told me later I darn near broke his hand throughout this whole ordeal.

I was hooked up to the monitor and as the contractions got stronger, I asked the nurse and Dave to tell me when I reached the peak of each one. They were so painful and I was proud of myself for getting through them quietly and as calmly as I could. I breathed and counted to five in my head with each breath and told myself that each of these was getting me one step closer to meeting my baby girl.

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We were in that triage room for maybe 45 minutes or an hour and the nurse checked me again and told me I was now 5 cm dilated and so they could admit me into a room, and I about cried with relief. They asked if I could walk or if I wanted to be wheeled in the bed to the room and I said definitely wheeled please. I had a few more contractions between the triage room and the delivery room – they were just coming so fast!

I had to get through one more before I was able to hoist myself from one bed onto the other. A few nice nurses introduced themselves, and I told them, too, how fast my last birth had gone and how I almost hadn’t been able to get the epidural and please could you order the epidural now!! They said they had called the anesthesiologist and that he was one floor down and would be on his way shortly. I think at one point I asked them to check me again (no idea why) and a nurse had to tell me that checking me too often put me at greater risk for infection.

The contractions were getting worse and worse and holy hell was I in pain. I was now moaning with each one, and I could hear myself and how silly I sounded but I just couldn’t help it. A few times there was no one in the room except me and Dave and I hated that – it brought me comfort to have nurses in the room, since I could just feel how fast this was happening.

After a few minutes of super strong contractions – and no one in the room but us – my water broke with a loud pop and a huge gush of warm fluid on the bed. I felt the baby move down more and I knew this meant the contractions would come even faster and stronger now, and just that feeling of the fluid everywhere was just crazy and I sort of moaned/yelled ‘my waaaater just brooooke!’ so that those darn nurses would know to get back in here! Kind of comical, really.

Two nurses came back in and the anesthesiologist was with them now, too. The nurse checked me again and told me I was at 8 cm now. The anesthesiologist introduced himself and started asking me all kinds of questions, and I was having a really hard time answering him. The contractions were one on top of the other and I could feel the baby RIGHT THERE and wanting to come out.  I begged the guy to hurry, and yet I was not getting a break that would allow me to sit up and get the epidural. Finally I mustered up the courage to just sit up so he could do his thing, but nearly as soon as I sat up, I felt her coming out of me.

I said “she’s coming out!” and oh my gosh, the pressure and pain. I felt like I was being split in two. I heard him say behind me something like “no, she’s not, you’re only at 8 cm.” I kind of wanted to punch him for doubting me and I think I may have started to cry a bit when I said again in a panicked voice “she’s coming!”

He said “then you need to lay on your side” and so I did – and just like that, her head came out!

I asked Dave “is her head out?” and he looked and said “yes!”

Now everyone was scrambling and the nurse pressed the emergency button, and ohhhh, the pain, but then I had one more contraction, felt a crazy amount of pressure and stretching and then whoosh – my baby was out!! I hadn’t even pushed, my body just did its thing and out she came!

It took me a second to realize what had happened, and then I looked behind me and there was my baby, lying on the bed and all covered in gunk. There had been no doctor there yet to catch her, so she literally just fell out onto the bed. Makes me kind of sad actually! But she was fine. ;) She started to cry and I’m not even sure who actually picked her up, but she was handed right over to me and I looked at her face and felt the gunk and blood all over my hands and arms and was actually a little grossed out, ha – and then she peed all over me, too!

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I felt SUUUUUUCH relief to not be in so much pain anymore and to have my baby girl in my arms. They had Dave cut her cord, they wiped her off while she laid on me, and they put a blanket and hat on her to keep her warm. After a few minutes of snuggles I asked if I could nurse her right away and they said of course, so I did. She latched right on and it was amazing. I think at this point my mom texted to see how things were going and Dave just texted her back with a photo, this one of me nursing her. So my mom was the first to know she’d arrived, and I think she was pretty shocked that she was already here!

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She’d arrived at 5:47 p.m., just four hours after my appointment and less than three hours from when I started having real contractions at home.

Henry was at his open house at the same time I was giving birth to his sister. My mom took pictures and sent us a few. He had a fun time and was very excited about school after that!

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The nurses called my birth a “precipitous birth,” which I had to later look up. Just a super fast birth! (And reading this thread about fast labors comforts me, since others agree that while it’s nice to have a fast labor, it is VERY painful to have it all happen that fast, and the way people act when coping with the pain is sometimes embarrassing. I don’t think I did anything TOO embarrassing, but I certainly felt pretty out of control and loud at some points!)

Dave asked the nurse at one point – since things were still fuzzy at this time – if she’d delivered the baby, and the nurse said “well, I delivered the head but the doctor delivered the baby.” Ummm, not. Pretty sure they have to say that for liability reasons, but we’re both certain there had not been a doctor in the room yet and the baby had most definitely ended up on the bed!

After Ellie nursed a little while, they took her and weighed her and did whatever else they needed to do with her. I was excited to hear what she weighed – 7 lbs, 14.5 ounces, which they rounded up to 7 lbs, 15 oz. Just as I called it!

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Similar to my experience with Henry, my placenta didn’t detach right away. The OB was there between my legs, talking with me about my labor and pressing on my belly to try and get my placenta to detach. It was painful to have her press on me like that, and I remember saying “aw, man, I thought the pain was over, now I have to push this out, too?” Ha. They actually ended up giving me some pain medication through the IV to help as I delivered the placenta, which did finally come out after probably 15-20 minutes. The medication made me feel loopy, and the OB equated it to having had a margarita or two – yeah, only not nearly as enjoyable!

They gave me my baby back and we snuggled awhile, and then I had to make my first bathroom trip before they’d send us to the room where we’d be staying. A new nurse came in to help me, and I remember thinking what a not very fun job that’d be – hi, nice to meet you, now please escort me to the bathroom and help me get this blood all cleaned up. Blech.

A wheelchair arrived to get us up to our room, where we arrived around 8:15 p.m. Mom and my dad came with the boys very soon after and it was just awesome to introduce my boys to their new baby sister! They were very sweet and excited, and I couldn’t believe how good I felt so soon after giving birth. I was positively on a high. We snapped some adorable pictures and got a video of Henry holding her for the first time while Ben just grinned away beside him. Melt my heart.

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They went home a little before 10 p.m., and my dad spent the night at our house with the boys. Dave and I were starving, having not eaten since lunch, so he ventured out to a grocery store and came back with sandwich makins, cheese and crackers, trail mix and cookies. Yum!

The nurses came to check on me quite a bit, and they had to keep pressing on my stomach to get the blood out and see where my uterus was. It hurt SO bad to be pressed on so roughly, I hated it. The following morning I had my IV taken out and it took about five minutes to get all the tape off my skin. Seriously, there is so much pain that comes with birth!

We went to the nursery around 12:30 a.m. to watch her have her first bath. She had SO much gunk caked in her hair, it was nice to see it all washed out. And wow were there a lot of babies in the nursery! We counted eight in there, and it was so funny to see all these brand new humans and how unique they all looked. Ah, babies.

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Dave slept a few hours that first night, but I didn’t really sleep. Ellie slept all night, but she’d swallowed a lot of fluid on her way out so she was spitting up and gagging a lot, and I had to keep cleaning her up and suctioning out her mouth. She had no real interest in eating, so I just cuddled her on my chest.

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The next day saw quite a few visitors – Shelly with the boys in the morning, and then Julia, Amanda, Dad and Barb, and Mary and Jim, all back to back, in the afternoon and evening. Dave brought the boys back that evening, too, when Mary and Jim were there. It was great to see everyone but boy was I tired! I didn’t get much of a chance to rest that day, and then that evening, Dave and the boys headed out around 8:30 and I was alone for the night with my baby. And oh, it was a rough second night. She nursed at 8:30 but then it was all downhill from there. For the next four or five hours I was up with her, trying in vain to feed her while she just cried and freaked out at my boob. I walked around the room, shushing and bouncing her, and I was so deliriously tired and felt just helpless. It was the low point, for sure!

I sent her to the nursery around 2:30 a.m. and they brought her back within an hour since she was just crying so much. Poor girl. I think her belly was really bothering her, since she just kept spitting up fluid. She didn’t eat that whole night, and I just did what I could to comfort her. They took her for something … vitals, I think? a blood draw? I’m not sure … around 4 a.m. and the nurse told me that if she was sleeping afterward that they’d keep her awhile so I could get some sleep. They kept her from 4-5:30 or so, so I got about 90 minutes of sleep – my first sleep in two nights!

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Dave took the boys to Kelly’s that morning, which was their last day there. They brought cupcakes as a treat, which I’d asked Shelly to bake with Henry since I wasn’t home to do it! He came back to the hospital to be with me for that last morning before we were discharged. I took advantage finally of one of the spa bath tubs there, which I’d been looking forward to and which was total heaven. The night before when Dave was there with the boys, he’d brought me a gift – a necklace from an Etsy seller with all of our kids’ names, which I’d hinted that I wanted. I was glad he came through – my first gift from him after having one of our kids! About time, Davey. ;) They also brought me a copy of US Weekly, which Dave said had been all Henry’s idea. It was much appreciated!

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We did all we had to do in order to be discharged, I changed Ellie into her first little outfit – the pink pants with the whale cardigan – and they sent someone up with a cart and a wheelchair to get us on our way home. We got home around 1 p.m. and had a few hours to just chill before Dave got the boys at Kelly’s. They were so excited to have their sister home, and just like that, we were starting our lives as a family of five!

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I’ll do another post on our first days/weeks at home, but just briefly – it’s been amazing. Seriously blissful and serene and incredible.

I think our first days and weeks at home with Henry were pretty nice, since he was the first and we had no other kids to deal with, but we were also nervous first-time parents with no clue what we were doing, and I had a lot of back pain and stitches from an episiotomy, so I was sufficiently miserable. And the first days at home with Ben were fairly brutal, too. No sleep, hemorrhoids that were excruciating, stitches from tearing, and a little boy who had his world rocked and was pretty whiny and clingy.

This time, though?

The recovery, as I said, has been astoundingly so easy and mostly painless. That whole ritual after going to the bathroom of a peri bottle and then Dermaplast spray? Not necessary at all this time. No tearing or stitches. Barely any swelling. No hemorrhoids since I didn’t even push. No back pain. Just … nothing. It’s wild and I can’t believe how lucky I feel to have been spared all that this time around.

And Ellie is an absolute rock star baby so far. I say so far, of course, since she’s only eight days old and I know things could change very quickly as she wakes up from this sleepy newborn phase!

But she eats like an absolute champ, latching right on and going to town. I did have some cracked nipples the first few days since her latch was kind of shallow, which I never experienced with the boys. Her second morning home she spit up blood and we totally freaked out, but after Googling we realized my nipples were cracked and she was likely sucking down blood along with the milk. Ew! Luckily it only happened once more and then not again.

She sleeps constantly, and when she’s awake, she’s content and alert and freakin adorable. She has not had one crying jag that has lasted for more than a few seconds. She’s peeing and pooping a ton, and also spitting up quite a bit, so she has her sleepers and outfits changed a few times per day. Par for the course, I guess. She has no cranked neck like her brothers had (which ended up being torticolis with both), and no clogged tear ducts like both her brothers had. Her umbilical cord fell off already today at 8 days old (it was 11 days for both boys), and the very best thing of all? She sleeps!!

Now again, I know this could change, and fast. But considering my boys didn’t sleep longer than a couple hours at a time for months (especially that darn Benny!!), I will enjoy this while it lasts. Three nights ago and two nights ago, she slept a stretch of 4.5 hours each night, and then last night? Six and a half hours!! Basically all night! Amazing.

She’s been sleeping in the living room in her rock n play, with Dave staying up til probably 1 a.m. or so on baby duty while I get a few hours of sleep, and then we trade and I sleep on the couch the rest of the night. The past few nights, I’ve been up til 11:30 or so since she wants to eat a ton and be awake from like 9-11:30, but then she sleeps quite a bit after that. I think we may move her upstairs starting tonight so that we can both sleep in our bed, and she can start getting used to her room. We’ll keep her in the rock and play for at least a few more weeks/months, I think.

And her brothers? They are nuts about her. Like, more into her than I would have imagined. They are both so excited to see her any time they’ve been apart from her. Henry asks multiple times a day to hold her, and Ben likes to get up in her face really close and say “hi! hi baby sister!” It’s really cute, too – we all call her Ellie, but Ben for the most part calls her Eleanor. She is a lucky little girl to have two brothers who love her so much! And seeing the three of them together just makes me heart explode. I have the family I’ve always dreamed of having, and it’s pretty incredible.

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So that’s the story of how Ellie came into the world!

She is an absolute dream come true and I am over the moon that she is here and safe and healthy and positively perfect. I couldn’t have imagined what a beautiful little girl she would be, with so much hair and a pretty little face that looks like a doll’s face. Her fingers and toes are loooong, and her legs are skinny and she makes the cutest little squawks and sounds already. I can’t get enough of her smell and her snuggles and I am just completely in love.

I kind of can’t believe I never get to do this again, but I’m trying not to think about that and just enjoy every second of life with this sweet little newborn of mine!

Baby #3: 40 weeks – Happy due date! Our first days at home with baby girl

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I can’t wait to share baby Ellie’s birth story, but first I had to mark the passing of this very special day – my due date!

Since mid-December 2013 I’ve been looking ahead and looking forward to September 2, 2014, the day my third baby was set to arrive. Of course, I so hoped she’d end up being an August baby – and lucky me, she was! Ellie is six days old already, and I am so thankful that I was able to be home for Henry’s first day of school today. (Another post for another day!)

She’s napping on my chest in the Moby as I write this, and the weight of her on me and her sweet little baby noises are just too much. It is truly the most special thing in the world to welcome a new baby, and I am beyond grateful that I got to experience it for the third time.

We’ve been home since Friday, and we enjoyed the long holiday weekend to settle in as a family of five and have a few visitors over. Today ‘real life’ started again already, with Henry having to be at the bus stop at 8:21 a.m. and picked back up there at 11:23, and with the boys starting their part-time schedule at Shelly’s house, which will be Tuesday afternoons and then all day on Wednesday and Thursday during my leave. It’s very nice to have a quiet house for a bit here! Tomorrow Ellie has her first pediatrician appointment.

(Now it’s evening and I’m finishing this up – hard to complete a full post at this stage of the game!)

We’re only six days in, but I can safely say that this has been the best, easiest recovery and adjustment period of all of my babies. I had a feeling the adjustment would be easier this time, since we were more mentally prepared, and since life is already pretty chaotic with two. But the easy recovery has been icing on the cake. Since she came out so very fast, I have pretty much none of the awful postpartum issues to deal with that I had the first two times. Even in the hospital, when the nurses would ask me to rate my pain, I’d give it a 2 or a 3, when I vividly remember that answer with my boys being a 7 or 8. The first week after Henry, my back pain was so bad I could barely walk down the block. The first week after Ben, I had hemorrhoids so bad I was positively miserable. This time? My biggest complaint is that I’m tired, but that obviously just comes with the territory. The engorgement was rough earlier this week, too, but it’s slowly getting better.

Otherwise I feel like a million bucks. And I’m so smitten with this little girl I can barely stand it. She is more beautiful and sweet than I ever could have imagined. And again, we’re only six days in – but she’s really good so far, too. Nurses like a champ (though likes to snack and then fall asleep, so she wants to eat pretty much every hour or two), is content and adorable when she’s awake, and really doesn’t cry much. When she does, it’s just really cute – though I know if/when she starts crying more, it won’t be as cute!

And the sleeping has been pretty decent, too. The past two nights, she’s given us a stretch of nearly 4.5 hours! I don’t think Ben did that til he was like five months old, seriously. I’ve been trying to catch sleep where I can, going to be by 9:30 or 10 (or trying to anyway) while Dave stays up til midnight or 1 on baby watch, waking me up if she needs to nurse, and then we switch. So I start up in my bed and then spend the rest of the night on the couch. Two nights ago I woke up in my bed at 2 a.m. and then again at 3 a.m. and panicked a little, wondering if everyone was still alive down there! But all was well, she’d just given us a nice stretch – but then of course was pretty much awake til morning when the boys woke up. Last night was better – I was up (and so exhausted) nursing her quite a bit between like 11-2, but then she slept 2-6:30, and I think I slept 2 til almost 6, which was my longest stretch of sleep in a week by far. We’ll see how tonight goes!

I’m not loving how I look, of course, but I know one can only expect so much less than a week after giving birth. It’s just that I felt so cute up til the end of my pregnancy, and now I’ve got this poochy belly and enormous boobs and nothing looks right on me. Black yoga pants and a black tank is pretty much my uniform right now if anyone is going to see me!

Ellie has had lots of visitors – Mom, Dad, Barb, Mary and Jim, Julia, Amanda, Shelly and of course her brothers in the hospital, and then Penny and Carlo, Kate and Scott and Ebby, and Mom and Dale all came this past weekend. Julia and Dizzy are coming tomorrow. So fun to introduce her to everyone. :)

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I took this picture tonight after giving her a sponge bath and I could pretty much die from the cuteness. This is the sleeper I wore home from the hospital when I was a baby! Needed to put it on her at least once, if for nothing more than the photo opp. ;)

The boys are driving us semi-nuts, per usual, but really, they’ve been doing awesome with their new baby sister. They are both totally enamored with her, Henry asking constantly to hold her, and Ben getting up in her face and saying “hiiii baby sister,” and “I go get her nunie!” anytime she makes a peep. Neither has shown much jealousy, though I think Ben’s acting a bit naughtier than usual. But we’re all hanging in, and it feels good to be a family of five!

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Also? Knowing I have off work until mid-November is pretty much amazing. Tonight as I sat on the couch in the house alone and nursed my baby, watching the sun go down while the boys played outside with daddy, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood outside, I thought to myself how nice it is the peace and calm a new baby brings. It forces you to slow down, and it feels good to slow down right now.

I need to wrap up so I can get some sleep. Hopefully the birth story can get accomplished over these next two days while the boys are at Shelly’s during the day.

I’m tired, but I’m on cloud nine, and I love the feeling I get when I look at my little family. I feel complete.

Welcome to the world, Eleanor Claire!

Our sweet baby Ellie is here!

Born Wednesday, August 27 at 39 weeks, 1 day.

5:47 p.m.

7 lbs, 15 oz. (I called it!)

20.5 inches long

I was at work that morning, had my weekly doctor’s appointment at 1:45 p.m., was home at 3, back at the hospital at 4 and out she came less than two hours later. Such a wild ride!

I am completely overwhelmed with love for this little person, and I’m filled with such gratitude and relief that she is here safely and that she’s healthy and so darn perfect.

Birth story to come later this week when I have some time to sit down and write it, but for now, here are a few of my favorite pics from the hospital and her first couple of days at home. :)

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Baby #3: 39 weeks – Getting impatient, feeling pretty good, babies everywhere

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Date: August 26, 2014
(First photo taken this morning; weekly photos taken last night, 8/25)

Photo thoughts: Starting with the cuter one from this morning so that’s what shows up in people’s feeds! … Because last night? I may be smiling in the pics but I was not a happy camper. I’d slept very little the night before and was feeling just crummy. My hair and shirt were dirty … ugh. I’d left work by like 3 and come home to take a nap, so I wasn’t in my work clothes anymore. I also wonder – will THESE photos be our last, or will we be taking them again next week on my due date???

Size of baby: Hmm … I’ll guess that if she comes in the next few days, she’ll be … 7 lbs, 15 oz. That’s what I weighed when I was born, and I just like the idea of her being under 8 pounds. ;) We’ll see!!

What I’m loving: That no matter what, the waiting game is almost over. And that even if I do go all the way to my due date, or beyond, I am DONE with work for 10 weeks after this week. Friday is my last day until I go back November 10, and we have the whole long holiday weekend ahead of us with no plans. Of course, I sure do hope we have a baby by then, but if not, we’ll get some nice family time in! And I do still adore this belly. Definitely my best belly yet – round and compact and cute. (in my humble opinion anyway, ha.)

What I’m anticipating: Ha. What a question right now.

What I’m stressing about/worries: The worry level is high as one gets to these final days. Just get here safely, baby girl.

Miss anything? Everything now about being not pregnant!

Weight gain: A whole month without any real weight gain. Wild! I started at 145 lbs, about 5 lbs over my happy weight of 140 since it was December and holiday time. I’ve been waiting and waiting to see that scary 180 mark on the scale but it hasn’t come. (Well, I’ve seen it at the doc – 181 last week, but that’s always in the middle of the day, after lunch, with clothes on! Doesn’t count.) It was verrrrry close yesterday morning, 179.8! But I’m right around 35 pounds of total gain, which is exactly what I gained with each of my boys, too. I’ll take it.

Differences between pregnancies: At 39-40 weeks with Henry, I was excited that October had arrived and I was finally getting a few Braxton Hicks contractions. Wasn’t sleeping well and was pretty miserable at work. At 39 weeks, 3 days, I decided to be done working no matter what. It was a Monday, and he came eight days later on a Tuesday. At 39 weeks, 6 days, I was three days into maternity leave and was just relaxing, which sounds pretty heavenly right now. I’d also had my final doc appointment and was 2 cm dilated; the doc estimated the baby to be on the big side at 7 1/2-8 pounds (he was 8 lbs, 11 oz when he came out!); and we scheduled my induction for the 15th (he came on his own the 13th.) On my due date, I had the whole day stretched out before me and I wasn’t sure what I’d do with myself! (Pretty sure I haven’t had that problem since that day, ha!) I made a collage of all my belly pics. I posted a pic of me and Henry on our due date - which was rare since the blog was only for me at the time and I didn’t post many pics. At 40 weeks, 2 days, I had hemmies and they were excruciating. I remember calling the doctor’s office and kind of freaking out, like what do I do about this?! Birth will be so awful because of this! The doc was kind of like yeah, um, lots of pregnant women get them and there’s not much you can do! I also wrote my final post that day before he came, just a short one about the waiting game and how weird it felt to have nothing going on!

At 39 weeks with Benny, he was already here and four days old!! Lucky me of 2012. :) Although recovery with him was pretty rough. Hoping to have an easier time of it this last time around!!

How I’m feeling: Aside from the emotional highs and lows, I’m feeling pretty darn good. The best I’ve felt at this point in any of my pregnancies, for sure. Very little back pain, no hemmies (knock on wood!!), a belly that, while cumbersome for sure, doesn’t feel overly enormous or totally taxing.

Camera Roll-5Mentally though, I’m feeling nervous about birth and a little annoyed at the whole not knowing when it’ll happen part. Annoyed, too, that I thought she may be here by now, because Ben was. SOOOO over work and am not being very productive AT ALL anymore. Just ready to get this show on the road. But also hoping it’s not for a few days now, since I really, really want to be at Henry’s school open house tomorrow night.

This pic was taken earlier this week, at 38 weeks, 2 days.

Sleep: Pretty crappy most nights now. I wake up in the middle of the night and then can’t fall back to sleep for an hour or two some nights. I’m up about a million times to pee. Two nights ago was a freakin fiasco, with insomnia at first, and then Henry peed his bed, which rarely happens, and he woke everyone up, and then Ben wouldn’t go back to sleep, so I was up with him, first in our bed then downstairs to have a snack, and I finally slept 2-5:30. 3 1/2 hours was it, which was why I felt so exhausted and crappy yesterday. Last night, though, I finally got some rest. I went to bed at 8:45, fell asleep around 9:15 and then was in my bed til after 6 a.m. I still woke up every couple of hours to pee or look at the clock, but I was able to fall back to sleep fast every time, thankfully. I woke up feeling a lot better mentally today and pretty refreshed.

Exercise: Life. Everything I do feels like exercise with these extra pounds!

Movement: Has quieted down quite a bit this past week, but last night was VERY strong again, and different. She was very active all evening, and then when I laid down to go to sleep, her movement was pretty much nonstop and felt very wavy in there, and VERY low and kind of painful. It had me thinking that it may be the night, so I’d showered and shaved and washed and straightened my hair before bed, just in case. But alas, it was not the night! Her movements send me into contractions more often than not right now … I’m experiencing that as I type this.

Boy or girl: My baby girl, who we’ve been calling Ellie or baby E more often than Eleanor now. Don’t know what we’ll call her once she’s here, but I think most of our loved ones will probably call her Ellie. I love it. I’m simply dying from anticipation to lay eyes on her.

Appointment update: A week since my last appointment would have been yesterday, but my next appointment isn’t until tomorrow (Wednesday), at 1:45 p.m. I’m going to ask her to sweep my membranes again and hopefully this time it’ll get things going. Just get me through that open house tomorrow night and then let’s have this baby!!

Birth date predictions: Thursday or Friday, August 28 or 29. Let’s do it, pleeeeease. But again, if we have a three-day holiday weekend as a family, a final ‘calm before the storm,’ as long as I’m not too miserable, that’ll be just fine by me. But then I’ll also have to start worrying again about missing Henry’s first day of school on the 2nd.

Superficial: I didn’t get any stretch marks with Henry, and I got one big one and maybe two teeny ones with Benny. This time? I have them pretty bad along both sides of my belly. My mom said she didn’t get her stretch marks until her third baby, either, and she still has them to this day. I’m really hoping some stretch mark cream will help, and/or that time passing will make them fade. I displayed them for Dave last night as he was taking my weekly pics.

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Milestones: Made it to my last week of work. And also – babies, babies, babies!!

Andrea was due three days after me and had her baby BOY yesterday!! She texted us in the morning to say her water broke! Just rolled over in bed and felt a pop. Samuel Michael was born yesterday afternoon.

And now literally five minutes ago, my work friend Jessica’s water just broke and she is on her way to give birth to her baby girl!!! She is not even 38 weeks yet and I am JEALOUS! It’s actually quite comical … Yesterday we walked laps around the office – snapped the pic below with our popsicles before we walked. (The last pic was taken this morning!) And then today, she and I had lunch together, and then we went to TJ Maxx downtown. She drove, and we parked in the parking structure and it was a looooong walk to TJ Maxx. I am feeling SO much pressure and pain down below today that it was not fun to walk that far, and I was slow moving and worried that if I did go into labor, we were really far from the car. She was walking ahead of me and kept saying things like “oh, you’re fine” and “suck it up!” and “I feel great!!”

We got back to the office and she came out of the bathroom and said she had some blood happening. Then not two minutes later, she whizzed past my office holding herself and saying “my water just broke! gotta go!!” Of course, all the women in the office got up and were following her to the front door, squealing and wondering amongst us should she drive herself? Should someone follow her? Is there a mess to clean up somewhere? Ha!!

So there you have it. First one due, last one standing over here. Boo to that, I say. But I am excited for my friends!!!!

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Highlights of the week: On Friday last week, my office threw me and Jess a “pink party” over lunch to celebrate our baby girls. We had lunch catered in and we each got a $100 Target gift card. Dave also texted me that morning to say “I got a pink party today, too.” His office had brought in dessert and given him a little onesie and a $130 Target gift card. Score!

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Friday night the boys and I picked up Papa Murphy’s for dinner. (And tonight I think we’re going to get Culver’s, since daddy works later and this girl ain’t cookin! We are officially in the anything-goes stage.)

Saturday we saw my brother and baby Jett, since Dan was in town running his first half marathon. He wanted to beat 2 hours and he did it in 1:54, even with the hot, muggy, icky weather. I was proud of him! We went to Dad’s for a cookout and stayed for probably 3 1/2 hours or so. I sure love that little Jett man!!

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Sunday Dave’s parents came over for a visit, and we had lunch and chatted and had a nice time with them. The rest of the day was spent relaxing … I took a 2-hour nap and then we went to the park and ate dinner and played outside some more before bedtime. I also gave myself a facial and painted my fingers and toes pink and took a long bubble bath on Sunday evening before bed. It was a good weekend.

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Summary: I can’t complain too much, as much as I kind of want to. I just want this baby here, darn it. And yet, I know that if she came today or tomorrow, I’d be super sad to miss Henry’s thing tomorrow. So I need to just chill and know she’ll come when she’s ready! Enjoy these last few days of being pregnant, of being a family of four, of being in a normal routine before life gets turned upside down again for awhile.

I suuuure hope I’m not doing one of these posts in a week, though, I’ll tell ya that. The way I’ve been feeling, she just CAN’T be a week away still. She can’t!!