Life around here.

It consists mainly in sleeping and eating and reading stories to little girls. They've been amazingly patient with me this week.

Max has started social smiling, which is so fun. He smiled for the first time on Monday, and I thought it must be a fluke, and then he smiled at Ella on Tuesday. And he's been giving me regular gummy grins ever since.

Somehow Max is just fine with being kissed incessantly by his sisters. And hugged. And having multiple toys piled on top of him. And instead of protesting when Ella speaks to him in a high pitched voice with her face approximately three millimeters away from his, he just looks mildly interested, and dare I say, happy.

And so life moves on and we are finding another new normal.


74 Hours Later.

Max is here.  And we are beyond thrilled.  He is... a newborn.  So far, that's about it.  Sweet and tender and needy, needy, needy.  This stage is so fleeting that I am really okay with the neediness.  He constantly wants to be held, and mostly just wants to nurse.  And Paul asked last night, "What if he is always like this?"  And I said, "He won't be."  That's just how newborns are, and it's nice to have the perspective of the third baby to just cherish the newborn neediness and know that it wears off rather quickly.  

And so I am writing his birth story while he sleeps in my lap.  And I am one hundred percent okay with that.

My doctor has strong opinions about inducing at 41 weeks.  And she told me that up front, and, truthfully, I was sure he would come at least before then, so I wasn't too worried about it.  But as time went on, I realized that very soon I would be facing an induction that I didn't really want.  I delivered Charlotte and Ella without an epidural, and planned the same birth for Max.  Because I was induced with Charlotte, I knew that pitocin would make labor harder, and really hoped to avoid it.  But, I also knew that I was capable having the birth experience I wanted with or without pitocin.  So, I kind of resigned myself to the induction, and went with it.

Most of you know, Max flipped into a breech position at 40 weeks, which was actually really stressful for me.  Even though he flipped back over pretty quickly, it was a very emotional couple of days.  And in some ways I was glad to induce, because I became so worried he would flip back over.  I was also worried that he was small (the girls were both in the nine pound range), and that it was maybe my fault.  What if I wasn't eating healthy enough, and all that jazz. (It turns out he weighed in at 9 lbs 1 oz and 22 1/4 inches.  How that baby turned breech and back again, I will never know.)

Well, we got confirmation on Monday that he was again head down, and so I went home and took some castor oil to try to avoid an induction on Wednesday.  No luck.  I also tried basically everything else, and have been trying all of those things for WEEKS.  He was just not ready.

So we showed up to the hospital Wednesday morning excited and optimistic about pretty much everything.  My doctor offered to break my water first to see if labor would start on its own.  Max was so high (-3 station) that it didn't do much, and it certainly didn't start labor, and not wanting a prolonged affair in the hospital, we started Pitocin around 10:30am.  It always takes a while to get going, and so the first hours were pretty easy.  Contractions were coming regularly, but they were easy to handle, and I became even more optimistic that this would be my easiest labor, yet.

Well, three o'clock rolled around and labor started getting really intense.  I was still coping really well with the contractions, but I was kind of desperate for some confirmation that we were making some good progress.  So at four we asked the nurse to check me.  I was only dilated to a 4.  That was the point I became really discouraged.  I spent about a half hour talking over my options with Paul and my Mom.  Because it was so early in labor, I felt really in my own mind (not the crazy person talk that I have during transition), and so it was a good conversation.  I decided sometime between four and four-thirty that I just didn't care at all about not having an epidural.  Somehow, it just didn't matter to me anymore.  I couldn't remember any of my reasons for having the kind of birth experience I had with Ella and Charlotte, and so I asked for the epidural.

The doctor came in right away and I had the epidural at 4:50p.  It was completely effective by 5:30 (longer than I thought it would take), but it did start taking the edge off very soon after it was administered.  My doctor came in at 6:00 to check me and I was still only at a six.  I was SO glad I got that epidural in that moment.  I think if I had labored another hour and a half with so little progress I would have just lost it.

A nurse came in at 7pm to check me and, miracle of miracles, I was complete and ready to push.  "Like, I can push right now?" I asked her.  And she asked if I would wait until my doctor came in.  "Sure."  I actually started feeling 'pushy' just a few minutes later.  And my doctor was already in the hospital, so she was in the room and ready to go just a few minutes later.  It was all so surreal.  During the pushing stage of my other labors, I was so focused and involved in labor that I was completely unaware of everything going on around me.  It was really interesting to see them get everything ready, and then my doctor said, okay, you can push when you're ready.  Weird.  And at the last minute I asked for a mirror so I could watch myself pushing.  I've always been offered a mirror, but truthfully, I have never cared, because I was so tired and focused on the work of labor.  So I started pushing.  It was different to not have a lot of feedback from my body, but I have pushed two other babies out, and my doctor coached me through it, making sure I wasn't pushing too fast to risk tearing.

It was really miraculous.  I have never been so aware and in awe of the miracle of birth as I was that night.  And so, after three pushes, Max was here.  They laid him on my chest and toweled him off and we laid skin to skin for the first hour.  It was the best bonding experience I have ever had just after the birth.  I attribute this to two factors.  The first is, I wasn't so exhausted from labor and so I was a pretty strong advocate for myself.  And the second is the hospital I chose to birth at; they were completely willing to delay weight and height assessments and other things for a full hour, and did all apgar assessments while he was laying with me.  It was glorious.  He breastfeed soon after birth, and it was amazing to be able to enjoy those first few moments of his life.  Ella's and Charlotte's first moments of life are such a blur; I was so tired.

I still kind of laugh to myself that I got an epidural.  I never would have predicted that.  But, if you want the truth, I am completely happy with my experience.  My recovery has been easy, easier than my first two, truthfully.  Max is my most vigorous breastfeeder, yet.  Although I attribute that to personality as much as anything else.  I don't know how things would have been different if we hadn't been induced.  Certainly contractions wouldn't have been so intense so soon, and maybe I would have chosen a completely different pain medication outcome.  But, for this birth, I have no regrets, and feel completely at peace with my choice. We'll let future births play out on their own.  

And so, that is Max's story so far.  

We are so blessed to have him home with us, and excited to watch him grow into the man God wants him to be.


I appreciate cows.

Friday was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick Fil A.  Which basically means, if you dress up like a cow, you get a free meal.  Yes, meal, people, not just a little chicken sandwich.  I got an entree salad.  The girls got kids meals, with fruit! (For the second time in their entire lives.  And I mean kids meals from any restaurant, not just Chick Fil A.  They never get kids meals.  They were thrilled with the toy at the bottom of the bag.  We went out to eat with my mom last weekend, and we ordered them an adult entree to share, and the waitress asked if we had seen the kids menu, and Paul said, "We don't believe in kid's menus."  Amen, husband.)  So, judge me for going out for fast food, because the lure of free lunch was just too appealing.  Plus, my friends all got together Friday morning and we made cow costumes while the kids played.

Best playgroup ever.


Lying has not worked out for me.

So, about nine months ago, give or take, I decided that my babies are always late, and so telling people my actual due date would just result in weeks of comments such as "Any day now!" or "Have you had your baby yet?"  Which, to me, are just frustrating, when you pretty much know that delivery is still a month away.  Even when I assure people that I'll probably be late, I hear things like, "Well, you never know."  Which, I understand, you don't ever really know, but, I kind of do.  Well, so I told everyone (except Paul and some of our family, and a few friends), that we are due in August.  I just pushed the due date back three weeks, thinking that I would be free and clear of all reminders of how unbearably long it takes me to gestate.

Well, I think this plan would have worked for many women.  Some women carry high, and it's hard to tell how pregnant they are.  But, as it turns out, it is pretty obvious that I am full term, because people are coming out of the woodwork to tell me that I will be birthing any day now.  Random strangers at grocery  stores (yes, it has progressed beyond polite conversation with the checkout person), people I have never even spoken to at church.... I'm trying to think of other examples.  But, now that I think about it, mostly I just go to the grocery store and church.  So that's basically it.

My friends either know that I'm a little (or a lot) sensitive or think I'm due in a month, so they leave me alone.  It's everyone else who bombards me with reminders of my ever aging fetus.  Well, strangers and the nurses at my doctor's office.  Seriously, doesn't anyone go the full 40 weeks any more?  Apparently not, because my 37, 38, and 39 week appointment were all met with comments about me "still being here".  Yep, just getting my money's worth.  Keep up the good work.

So now I know.  Lying doesn't help.  Although, next pregnancy I am considering pulling out the big guns:

"When am I due?  Oh, I'm not pregnant."  That'll stop the comments real fast.

But for now, I just content myself by committing to just pretend people aren't pregnant when it's painfully obvious they are.  I sent my good vibes out into the universe the other day when I passed another (very) pregnant woman in the grocery store, looked at her right in the eye, grinned, and said, "I love your haircut."

The view from here.  Why yes, that is a cow spot on my shirt.