Sunday, November 16, 2014

{these two...}

She is my little firecracker. Wild and amazing.
He is my little man. Sweet and observant.
Our days are busy and full. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning
in doubt and worried that I am
not doing enough. For them. For my marriage.
For me. 
But the truth is...our busy lives, our messy house, the seemingly monotonous days...
they are all filled with love.
So much love.
And not only that...
They are also filled with joy and gratitude.
Excitement and adventure.
Sure, there are also plenty of tears in there mixed with a side of complete exhaustion,
but the bitter is what makes the sweet so much sweeter, right?
* * * *
This is life - and I am forever grateful for every second of it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

{Dear Elijah | Three Months}

Dear Elijah,

My goodness...if you get any cuter, I might just be forced to eat you up! That smile just melts my heart each and every time. I seriously can hardly stand it. You are simply the sweetest little thing and I am so incredibly happy and proud that I get to be your mama.
Your 3 month checkup is on Friday, but I took you to the doctor yesterday because you had this terrible cough and cold for days, complete with awful congestion, and you were really quite miserable. It broke my heart to watch you like that. We just wanted to rule out the possibility of an ear infection, and thank goodness, your ears and lungs were all clear. You seem to be feeling much better today! While at the doctor, they checked your weight and you are now 11lbs 11oz. You are still hanging out in the 7th percentile, but you are definitely happy, healthy, and growing like a weed these days. 
You love to smile and you are starting to "talk" even more. I love hearing your little voice come out - it is just the sweetest sound. And your tiny giggles are ridiculously cute. Yep, you're a charmer. That is for sure. 
You still take quite a few naps on and off throughout the day, which is helpful since I am working from home. But you are also starting to be quite active during the day. You are starting to reach for things and love being played with. You love hanging out on your rainforest playmat while punching and kicking the animals that are hanging down above you. You love snuggling soft blankets and lovies and you have an extreme fondness for your binky. You love being talked to (see face in photo above). You love bath time. You love hanging out on your changing table. You love your big sister. You love when I sing to you. You love making silly faces, and often times, very serious faces. Too funny. 
One major and awesome change this month has been your nighttime sleep pattern. I had a nasty sinus infection in the beginning of October and was coughing a lot at night. I was worried about keeping you up, so we decided to go ahead and move you into the crib in your room. You were still waking up a few times for the first few nights there, so we decided to change it up to see what happened. We started swaddling you up tightly with your arms in (we had only been swaddling you from the waist down prior to that) and laid you down on the changing pad in the crib so that you'd feel a bit more cradled. Well, that certainly seemed to be the magic combination because you immediately started sleeping 7-8 stretches and then going right back to sleep after a 4:30am-ish feeding. In the past couple of weeks, you've been sleeping an even longer stretch than that. We put you down sometime between 8 and 9pm and you'll sleep straight through until about 6:30 or 7am (most of the time). You are a total rockstar. I know that the rug could totally be ripped out from under us at any point, but we'll just enjoy it for now :)
Also in the same week that I had that sinus infection, we stopped nursing altogether. You were clearly not getting enough from me and I was still in pain a great deal of the time. It just wasn't doing anything for either of us. I continued to pump and mix my milk with the donor milk, but I was only pumping an ounce or two at a time and it did not make the donor stash last nearly as long as I was hoping it would. We ran out last weekend and made the official switch to formula full time. I really can't believe that I was only able to nurse you for 9 weeks, but I've spent a lot of time coming to terms with it all and I've made my peace (except for the small meltdown I had about it at the pediatricians office yesterday...oy). I really am so thankful for those wild and crazy (and painful) 9 weeks and for the milk that my dear friend Kara donated to us, and now we are just on a different part of our journey. You are happy and thriving and I couldn't ask for more than that. 
Well, my sweet little Bubba (as we all affectionately call you), you are simply the most darling and easy-going baby and you are just plain cool (one of the mom's at Lucy's dance class affirmed this fact just yesterday and I definitely agree). I just couldn't be more in love with you. 

All my heart,

Love, Mama

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

{October Love - Part Two}

The weekend before Halloween, we had absolutely beautiful weather. It was the perfect time to go to the Dill's Greenhouse Fall Fun Fest with some friends of ours. We paid a small fee to get in and there were TONS of activities for kids. There was a bouncy house, hayrides, a corn filled sandbox, a corn maze, a hay bail maze, face painting, a tractor/barrel ride, hot dog/s'more making stations...and so much more. Lucy and her little friend Eliot played for hours and we finished the afternoon off by picking out a pumpkin on our way out. Such a fun day!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Then, of course, came the main event....Trick or Treating! We had planned to go to Zach's parents neighborhood on Friday evening for Trick or Treat, but the weather report was not looking good at all for that night. So, we decided we would go to a different area with some friends that had their Trick or Treat on Thursday night. I am so glad that we changed our plans because the weather on Friday did end up being very cold and rainy. Whew! 
When we showed up to our friends house, we discovered that Lucy's little boyfriend, Max, had dressed up as Batman! Batgirl and Batman...meant to be :) We hadn't even planned it in advance! They are just too cute for words and had such a blast together. 
Poor Elijah was a banana for Trick or Treat - the same costume Lucy wore when she was a baby :)

We came around one corner and there was this house that pretty much had their front yard decked out like a haunted house. I mean, they had some seriously creepy stuff going on and I thought that was definitely going to be the end of our trick or treating when Lucy saw it. She was definitely very cautious and definitely did not want to get candy from this house, but then this guy (pictured above) came around and put his arms out to give her a hug and she was okay after that. I still can't believe she actually hugged him. That's my brave girl :)
The night did come to an end for us soon after the scary house, though. It came when she saw a boy in a Scream mask that had a feature that made it look like he was actively bleeding when he pressed a little button. Yup. That was the end of that. She jumped into my arms, buried her face into my shoulder and begged to go home. Poor girl. We talked a lot when we got home that night about how it was just a little boy in a mask and that he went home and took it off and went to bed just like her. It took her a couple of days to work through it, but my sweet girl has since announced that she can't wait until it's time to Trick or Treat again next year. She just hopes she doesn't see that little boy with the mask next time :) 

{October Love - Part One}

I love October. The cooler (but not totally freezing) weather. The changing leaves. Pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. Apple picking. Pumpkin patches....and that fact that we get to celebrate Halloween all month long.

First, let's talk about Lucy's Halloween costume. She loves princesses just as much as the next kid, and yes, that very much includes Elsa and Anna...but my girl also has a love of all things having to do with superhero's and begged to be one (a pink one) for Halloween. Lucy and I were both over the moon when we happened to stumble upon a pink Batgirl costume, cape and all. Every time she put it on, her super girl alter ego would come out and she would pretend to fly around the house coming to the rescue of all her stuffed animals that needed help. Man, I love this girl.

We started our month with our 4th annual yoga moms/babies Halloween party. A little bit of back story about these sweet friends: I met 5 other amazing mama's during a prenatal yoga class when I was pregnant with Lucy. It was the first pregnancy for all but 1 of us and we all started hanging out at a local favorite local restaurant after our classes and bonded over baby talk. One by one, the babies started being born (all girls!) and our after yoga hangouts soon turned into playdates and the occasional and glorious mama's night out. We all became fast and close friends and have continued those playdates and girls nights out for over 3 years now. Two of the mama's have since moved out of state (so sad) but we still very much keep in touch and visit whenever we can with them. I am just so thankful for these mama's and their sweet kiddos! Here is this years photo of the little ladies....
 And just for fun....a little collage of all the photos from the last 4 years...
And...another fun thing was that the 4 of us that still live in Ohio had boys in the next round of babies, so we got to get the first ever photo of the boys all together! Poor Gus (far left) wasn't too thrilled about it, but the photo is filled with major cuteness just the same! And in case you can't tell, Elijah is the little fire chief on the far right ;)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The next weekend, we went apple picking at Lynd's Fruit Farm. This is absolutely one of my most favorite fall activities. It was a beautiful day and I just loved watching Lucy pick the perfect apples off of the trees with such care, occasionally biting into one and breaking into a big smile each and every time. It was one of the many gentle reminders that I receive from her daily to slow down and just enjoy life and all of the sweetness it has to offer. 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Our next Halloween outing was a trip with the kiddos and Zach's parents to Boo at the Zoo. They had a whole trick or treat area setup for the kids and Lucy had an absolute blast.

Friday, October 24, 2014

{Elijah's home birth story}

::This is the story of the home birth of Elijah Matthew....born on August 9th, 2014 at 2:27AM. His was another long labor (following in the footsteps of his big sister) and a lot of the details are blurry to me, but I think I've been able to put together most of the pieces of the story thanks to a little help from my amazing birth team. Many thanks to my dear friend and doula, Michelle, who took most of the pictures during my labor/birth::

Thursday, August 7th

I was almost a week past my "due date" (August 1st) and Zach and I were both starting to get very anxious. I had been having a ton of braxton hicks contractions in the past week and it was hard not to get a little excited each time we thought labor might actually be starting. But after a few false alarms, we were just trying to keep our wits about us.

My mom had been visiting for the past couple of days and it was nice having the distraction from just waiting for labor to begin. The morning of August 7th, mom and I decided to take Lucy to the Zoo. We were hoping that some power walking while pushing the stroller would help put me into labor. I kept telling myself that the baby would come when it was good and ready, but I was definitely all for helping things along at this point. Even though I had a few contractions while we were there, it didn't appear that anything major was going to happen quite yet.
When we got home from the Zoo that afternoon, we found that Zach had come home early from work and was sitting on the front porch. He said he decided to go ahead and start his paternity leave even though it could still be another week until the baby came. He already had everything in order at work and felt like he was just kind of twiddling his thumbs there. Mom left to go back to Cincinnati later that afternoon and Zach and I talked about paint colors for the porch pillars. It was a project we had been putting off for about a year and now seemed like the perfect time to work on it. Ha. So, Zach went and bought paint and got started while Lucy and I hung out outside with him and played with sidewalk paint and chalk. We kept joking about how I was definitely going to go into labor soon now that we had started a big project.

Around 9pm that evening I started to have some regular contractions (about 10-12 minutes apart) while we were watching television. They weren't painful or anything and just felt like the regular tightening contractions I had been having a couple of nights before that never turned into anything. So we were trying to not get our hopes up as usual. We got into bed around 10:30 or so and by 11:00 I noticed that the contractions were already starting to wrap around to my back a bit and get more painful. Zach was already asleep at that point and I decided to not wake him up for awhile until I was sure of what was happening. I knew that I should really just try and get some sleep, but I couldn't help but get excited because I knew these contractions felt different and I was pretty convinced that I was in the early stages of true labor. So I decided to just lay there and time them for a little while.

Friday, August 8th

By about midnight, the contractions were even more uncomfortable and were about 10-11 minutes apart. By 2AM, they went to about 7-9 minutes apart and I decided to get up to use the restroom before heading downstairs to walk around for a little while. I wandered around for a bit and felt like things were picking up even more. At 2:30AM, my contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart but weren't lasting super long. I decided to head back upstairs around 3AM  to wake up Zach and let him know what was going on. I was starting to feel like things might go a lot faster than they did with Lucy's labor (36 hours) and asked him to come hang out with me downstairs. He said of course he would if that's what I wanted, but he convinced me that it would be a good idea to lay down and try to rest as much as possible since we had no idea what kind of a ride we were in for. I went ahead and climbed back into bed even though I was pretty sure I wouldn't actually be able to sleep. Contractions went to about 6-8 minutes at that point.

At about 5:45AM, I decided to get up and use the restroom again which is when I noticed some bloody show. I decided to go ahead and call my doula (and dear friend), Michelle, to tell her what was happening and that I thought she should start making her way over to our house soon since she lives about an hour and 20 minutes away. She said she would get her things together and head this direction soon and suggested that we go ahead and setup the birth tub just in case things really did move faster. I also decided to go ahead and call my midwife, Kathy, to let her know that things were starting. She said to let her know when contractions got to 5 minutes apart lasting 1 minute or longer. I then woke Zach up again and I told him I felt like I was starting to need some support. So we came downstairs and he started setting up the birth tub while I hung up the beautiful birth affirmation posters that my sweet friends had made during my Blessingway, stopping every 5-7 minutes to get through the next contraction.

At some point around then I started having these really intense contractions that were really close together (about 2-3 minutes) but were really short (about 20-30 seconds or so). They made me panic a little bit and made me think things were happening really quickly all of the sudden but they soon spaced out to about 5-6 minutes again (lasting 30-45 seconds). It was really starting to hit me then that this was really happening and that we were going to meet our sweet little baby soon!

 Zach made us breakfast after he finished setting up the birth tub (no water yet) and we decided to turn a movie on while we ate. I found "Now and Then" (one of my favorite movies!) on HBO and it was the perfect thing to watch while I rolled around on the birth ball and finished my bagel.
Michelle arrived around 7:45AM and I was super happy to have her there for some extra support. As the sun came up, I noticed my contractions were starting to space out a bit more but I knew they definitely weren't going to go away.

Lucy woke up around 8:30AM and she was really excited to see the birth tub setup when she came downstairs. We let her get in it to play for a little while as we talked about how the baby was going to be coming out soon. She kept asking me if I was okay when I would have a contraction in front of her and I just kept assuring her that I was fine and that the baby was just ready to come meet her. Just looking at her in those moments made me want to cry. I couldn't believe that my baby girl was about to become a big sister. It really just felt so incredibly monumental.
 Zach made Lucy breakfast and got her dressed and then Lala (Zach's mom) came and picked up her around 9:15 to take her to daycare for us and then was going to pick her up later to stay at their house that night. It felt so strange saying goodbye to her knowing that the next time we saw her she would be meeting her baby brother or sister!

I went up to take a shower after they left and just took a few moments to myself to say a quick little prayer that everything would go smooth with this birth and that we would soon have a healthy baby in our arms. I was starting to have flashbacks of Lucy's birth and knew I was in for an intense ride. But I felt ready. I just couldn't wait to find out who this little person was that had been bouncing around so happily in my belly for the last 41 weeks.

Around 10:30AM, Michelle suggested that Zach and I take a walk around the neighborhood together to see if that would help get things going a little more. I was already having to moan a bit through the contractions (which I was feeling very much in my back) and felt a little weird about having people watch me having contractions, but a walk sounded like just what I needed and I decided I didn't really care if anyone saw me. It felt really good to be out in the sunshine walking hand in hand with my love. I would just squeeze his hand as a contraction would start and I would lean into him as he pressed his hands hard into my back.

We came back to the house after about a half an hour and Mandy (my dear friend and co-midwife) came soon after that (around 12pm). We didn't think we were very close to meeting the baby yet or anything, but she said she just wanted to come on over and check baby's heartbeat and see how everything was coming along.
{michelle + mandy sure were having a lot more fun than I was...haha}
She said the baby was doing great and that everything was just fine. The only thing was that the baby was still very much hanging out on my far right side (ROT) and that we'd need to try to get baby over to the left side (LOT) which would be the most optimal birthing position. 

Around 12:45ish, Mandy and Michelle said they were going to head somewhere for lunch to give Zach and I some time alone and suggested that I try to lay down and rest for a little while. Zach set up a million pillows on the couch for me and I tried to sleep as much as I could (I certainly was already exhausted after not sleeping the night before), but I could only get about 2-3 minutes of sleep at a time because the contractions were slamming into me pretty hard.... and laying down at all was not helping with pain management. I would try to sit up when I would feel one coming on, but once it started, it was pretty much impossible to move into a different position. It was like they would temporarily paralyze me and I was stuck in whatever position I was in when the darn thing started.

It definitely helped a little bit to even get those few minutes of sleep at a time, but the contractions eventually forced me to get off the couch and walk around. I labored in the kitchen for a little while (for some reason I had gotten into a groove of holding on to the towel rack on the island during contractions...ha) and then we went outside to walk around the backyard for awhile. It was a beautiful sunny day and the sunshine (and fresh air) felt really good.

Mandy and Michelle came back around 3:45pm. Mandy asked me if I wanted her to check my cervix for progress and at first I wasn't sure I wanted to know how far along I was (or wasn't). I remembered being checked around this point in Lucy's labor and being really disappointed to hear that I was only at 3cm. But I finally decided that I did want to know and it turned out I was at 4cm. Still a bit disappointing - but I didn't let it discourage me too much. I was ready for forge ahead. I mean...what choice did I have?! She also stripped my membranes right after she checked me. She then asked if I wanted some labor enhancer (an herbal tincture) to help the contractions pick up a bit more in intensity and frequency. I was already moaning through the contractions (which were about 5 minutes apart lasting 30-50 seconds) and needing a lot of pressure on my back, but I knew it had to get a lot worse before it would get any better. I knew that we still had a long way to go, so I was all about helping things along. 

Mandy called Kathy (the midwife) at this point and gave her an update. Then we talked about ways that we could get the baby into the LOT position which would ultimately force the baby to put pressure on and help dilate my cervix even further. We went upstairs and tried the side-lying release on the bed. I did 3 contractions in this position on each side and they were incredibly painful, but I knew it was important to help the baby move. Mandy checked the baby's heartbeat soon afterwards and the baby had definitely shifted over quite a bit, which I was really happy to hear. We were getting there. Baby and I were both working really hard....and we were working together. 

I labored all around the house for the next few hours while my amazing birth team shuffled around with me pushing into my back, massaging my hands and shoulders, feeding me small bites of food, keeping me hydrated, wiping my occasional tears and praying over me with each contraction. The diffuser was filling the house with the sweet smell of lavender oil and my labor playlist was playing over and over again on the computer. I kept finding myself singing along to the lyrics of my favorite songs while resting in between contractions and I remember thinking at one point about how happy I was that I put that playlist together. 

By about 6:45pm, contractions were super intense coming about every 4 minutes and lasting a minute or longer. The baby was posterior for much of my labor due to the fact that he was moving clockwise around to the other side, and this made the contractions much more intense. Like woah. Zach started filling the tub with water and I prayed that we were nearing the end, but I did not want to get my hopes up too much. 
Kathy arrived around 7pm as I was kneeling on the ground and leaning over the birth ball, burying my face into it and moaning like a lion in the wild through each contraction. By 7:45- they were coming about 3-4 minutes apart and lasting about a minute and a half. I asked Kathy if I could pretty pretty please get into the birth pool and she said I could since I was definitely in good heavy labor at this point. Zach climbed in with me and I was so thankful for the warmth of the water and the relief on my joints. The contractions I had in the pool were still incredibly intense, but I could tell that they were spacing out quite a bit. I prayed that it was just the calm before the storm, but it became clear pretty quickly that the water was slowing me down. I certainly welcomed the break, but I knew it wasn't going to get the baby out. 

I got out of the birth pool after about an hour and went up and labored on the toilet for awhile before coming down to try and rest on the couch for a bit. I was so exhausted and was just having a hard time picturing when this would all end. When would I finally have my baby in my arms? I was in the middle of another marathon and I was starting to feel a little defeated.

I knew I needed to just keep it together and keep forging on. Kathy suggested that we go back upstairs and try another kind of side lying release on the bed. She wanted me to lay in this position for an hour and try to get some rest while I was doing it. The contractions were slamming into me harder than ever and laying down was incredibly uncomfortable and painful. Zach laid with me and pushed into my back with all his might during every contraction while telling me how proud he was of me and that he knew I could do this. That I was doing this. That I was doing this again...just as I had with Lucy. I was in the thick of it and he was right there with me.

I laid there for about 40 minutes before I really couldn't stand it anymore. Kathy came up around 11pm and listened to the baby's heartbeat (which they had been doing often) and told me it was a bit "tacky" (fast). She said everything was fine but that she wanted me to get into a warm shower to see if it would slow down a bit. Luckily, the shower did the trick and baby's heartbeat went right back to normal. I came back into the bedroom and Kathy told me we needed to do a bit more work to try and get the baby to go the rest of the way to the left side (LOT). She put the birth ball on the bed and I leaned over it for a long time, still moaning like a wild banshee through every single contraction. It was clear I was quickly losing the last bit of energy I had left and that I needed a little boost, so Zach fed me bites of greek yogurt and a tablespoon of honey. I was in total labor land at that point and was not interested in eating or drinking anything, but they forced me. ha. I remember just telling Kathy at one point that I was "really having a tough time". She just looked at me with the sweetest and most sympathetic look on her face, put her hand on my belly and said "I know, honey." It felt good for her to just acknowledge it. Again, for about the millionth time, I just had to remind myself that there was no going back. I had to trust my body and my baby and remember that it would all be over soon. Yeah, I barely believed that at at that point- but it was the inner pep talk I kept having with myself.

Saturday, August 9th

I got back into the birth pool around midnight and the same thing happened that had happened the last time I had gotten in. The contractions were hitting me HARD, but they were spacing out again. I kept trying to change positions to see if I could get them to pick up again because I was SO wanting to stay in the water, but it just wasn't working. I still stayed in there for a little while just to give myself as much of a break as possible. The room was dark except for the light from the kitchen and from the oil diffuser that was sitting on the bookshelf next to me. I was feeling about 99% depleted of energy at this point and was getting delirious (I think the water was probably a little too warm which didn't help). I just could not get my eyes to focus and it was making me panic a little bit. Zach gave me more bites of yogurt and another tablespoon of honey (again- I was not interested...but I knew I needed it badly). Between contractions, I just kept telling Zach and Mandy that I was done. I don't even know how many times I said it, but in my head I was begging them to believe me. I didn't think I could do it anymore. I really didn't. It felt like the end was never going to come. In my head I was screaming "just take me to the hospital and give me a C-Section!!" but the words never came out because I knew in my heart that it was not wanted I really wanted. Zach later told me how hard that part was for him. He said he wanted to just say "Okay- she's done. She's really done. Let's get her some help!" But he didn't because he also knew that it wasn't what I really wanted. He knew I would have said the words myself if that's what I really needed.

As soon I got out of the birth pool, the contractions started really hitting me hard and fast again. I went back up to the bathroom and labored on the toilet for a little while. Zach was sitting up there with me and I told him that I didn't want to try the birth pool anymore because it was obviously working against me and he told me he agreed. I hadn't imagined giving birth anywhere but in the water but I knew that just wasn't going to happen so I was trying to just figure out what to do next. The contractions were long and crazy intense and it was really hard to gather my thoughts. Mandy came up soon after (maybe around 1:30am or so) and asked if I wanted Kathy to break my bag of water. It wasn't something that they normally do, but we knew the baby was right there and that things would really speed up once the bag of water was out of the way. I said "heck yes!!"

I figured at that point that I would just have the baby on the bed, so everyone quickly brought all of the birth supplies upstairs and got everything ready. The contractions were simply insane at that point - just one on top of the other. I was moaning louder and longer than ever and squeezing Zach or Michelle's hand hard until the end of each one. They covered the bed with chucks pads and then Kathy went ahead and broke my water bag. It took her a little while to do it because it was a "bag of steel" as she kept calling it. ha! (I had been taking a ton of Bioflavonoids from the very start of my pregnancy so that we could help prevent my water from breaking too early like last time). Once she finally broke it (around 1:50am), a huge gush came out and there was the tiniest bit of meconium, but nothing to be alarmed about she said. I could immediately feel the baby really starting to move down at that point and knew we had to be close because I was really starting to feel like I was losing all control.
Kathy told me I was about 8-9cm and that there was just a little bit of cervix in the way. She said that she wanted me to get in the shower again because the upright position would help the baby clear that cervix and would be able to come out. I was like "You want me to do WHAT?!" I couldn't even imagine moving off of the bed at that point, but I somehow managed to make it into the bathroom and into the shower at 2:20am. I was grabbing at the walls and wailing through the contractions, which were completely on top of each other, and feeling like my body was about to explode into a billion pieces. The shower curtain was only closed about half way and my sweet Zach was standing there trying to get me to focus just a little bit, but that was completely impossible at this point and I'm pretty sure I swatted his arm away and yelled something at him. Haha. Poor guy. But I still don't feel too bad...a baby was literally about to come out of me! I think it was during the second contraction that I had in the shower that I yelled "the baby is coming!" Zach quickly called for helped and Kathy came in and checked to see if she could see the head. She said she could not see or feel anything quite yet. The next contraction came very quickly after (2:23am) and I yelled even more vigorously this time, "the baby is really coming out now!!"

So, Kathy figured I would try to jump out of the shower and rush to the bedroom, but I knew there was no time. I was suddenly filled with the most raw and intense energy that exists in the world. My baby was ready to come Earth side. So, I quickly lowered myself into a sitting position in the bath tub while she turned the shower water off and everyone else rushed into the bathroom. I immediately felt the most incredible amount of pressure and the baby's head popped out (2:25am). I hadn't even pushed at all. My body was doing the work it was made to do. The cord was pretty tightly wrapped around baby's neck and Kathy worked quickly to try and release it. I couldn't believe this was happening so fast all of the sudden. I remember saying "Oh my God! Is the head out already?!" She told me to go ahead and push with the next contraction to try and get the shoulders out, but I don't even think I waited for another contraction. The pressure was just all consuming and I was certainly in another world at that point. I gave the tiniest push and out came the rest of the baby's body (2:27am). Sweet relief!!
Kathy put the baby on my chest and I was suddenly in absolute heaven looking into these big, beautiful, blue eyes. Eyes that stared deep into my soul. I couldn't believe that it was finally over and my sweet angel was in my arms! I pulled one of the baby's legs up and discovered that we had a BOY!! Oh, my heart! I had been feeling for awhile at the end of my pregnancy like it was a boy, and my intuition was obviously strong. I was immediately so completely in love with this amazing child.

He didn't really let out a big cry or anything when he first came out and I was nervous for a minute while they sucked the gunk out of his mouth and nostrils and vigorously rubbed his back. I kept asking Mandy if he was okay and she was assuring me over and over again that he was just fine. His skin pinked up really quickly and I knew that he was okay. More than okay. A perfect little piece of heaven.

A minute or so later, I felt something come out of me and I was like "woah- was that the placenta?!" I couldn't believe I didn't have to do any work at all to get it out this time and I was incredibly relieved that I wasn't heavily bleeding the way that I did when the placenta came out after Lucy's birth. I had definitely been worried that history was going to repeat itself this time around but it didn't - thank god.

I laid there in the bathtub with him for a little while just taking it all in. Breathing in the newness of this sweet gentle soul that had just gone through an intense journey to enter this world. I was so thankful that I had made it through another long and intense labor. I was thankful that I was surrounded by such incredible people that supported me every step of the way. I was thankful that I was able to just get up and walk into the bedroom when I was ready instead of crawling on hands and knees like last time.

As I walked into our room, Zach just stood there with tears in his eyes. He was so happy to see me looking so happy and healthy after this birth. It was just such a different experience last time. This time, we were able to just crawl into bed together with our brand new babe and spend those precious first moments soaking it all in, which is something we didn't really get to do for awhile last time. It was pure bliss in those early morning hours while we studied and awed at every inch of our beautiful baby boy.

It was probably about 3:30 or 4am at that point and I was definitely exhausted, but we were still going on adrenaline for sure. We laid there for awhile while Elijah did the breast crawl, but he didn't seem too interested in nursing at all yet. So we just snuggled until it was time for his newborn exam. This was also when Zach was able to cut the cord. It sure made my mama heart happy to see that my babe was healthy and passing every test with flying colors. They also gave me a little exam (no tears, hooray!) and massaged my uterus to help it shrink back down. I couldn't believe how great I felt for having just gone through another long labor! The only thing was the after pains. I had been warned that they get worse with each birth, and boy was that the truth! Extra strength tylenol was definitely my friend for a little awhile.

He weighed 6 pounds 3 ounces (which was exactly one pound more than Lucy weighed at birth) and was 20" long. My new motto is "little babies, long labors!"
I love that Aurora (our dog) was just laying on the bed all snuggled up next to the baby throughout the entire exam. She had also been laying there while I had been laboring in the bed just before getting into the shower for that last time. Such a sweet and concerned girl.

After the exam was complete, Elijah and I got into our warm and soothing herbal sitz bath (which eases soreness, aids in healing, and helps to prevent infection). I relaxed there with my sweet boy resting on my legs as I washed the residues of birth off of both of us. I was already reminiscing about the amazing event that had taken place in that exact spot only a couple of hours before that and thanking god for this miracle. 

After our bath, the birth team packed up to leave and Zach and I finally settled back into bed with the baby to get some much needed sleep. Before we dozed off, Zach reminded me about the bottle of champagne that I had been keeping in the fridge so that we could celebrate the birth when the time finally came. Zach went down and made us a couple of mimosa's. Elijah still wasn't really interested in nursing so much yet (he was just as exhausted from his journey as I was), so I figured it wouldn't hurt. We toasted to our sweet baby boy and to each other for making it through to the other side. We talked about the birth and about how excited we were for Lucy to meet her baby brother before finally drifting off to sleep. 

Elijah's birth was long and intense, but it was also incredibly spiritual and magical and I am so thankful to have had another beautiful home birth. I remain in total awe of my body and it's power to bring new life into the world. But I know I simply could not have done it with out the amazing support of Zach, Michelle, Mandy and Kathy. It truly was a team effort and I feel so incredibly blessed...
Welcome to the world Elijah Matthew. We love you to the moon and back...and there and back again.