A Son is Born: My Second (Amazing) Birth Story

Whenever I read birth stories I always want to get right to the good stuff. So let me break you off with a little preview.

At 11pm, my water broke. To be frank, it practically exploded. All over the bed, the carpet on the way to the bathroom, the TWO towels I grabbed, and eventually the shower. It was a wonder that the entire house didn't fill up and threaten to drown us all.

This is a good story. I promise. It is so good, in fact, that I feel a little guilty, almost sheepish to tell you all about it.

But forget that, I deserve a good birth story. I feel entitled to a good birth because of how terribly, heartbreakingly difficult my first birth was. This second birth was really everything I wanted it to be. As one of my favorite midwives, Pauline put it, "It was really healing. My first birth was traumatic. My second birth was a healing birth."

As I mentioned previously, I was in labor for over a week (sorta). Read about that in my earlier post, We Had a Baby. I'm going to jump ahead a little. My mom and dad had been visiting since Thursday and Friday respectively. My husband's folks came down on Friday as well. It was now Tuesday night, one day after my October 20th due date. The nightly contractions had started up again, and as we had done almost every night, we said good bye ... and maybe see you later! But probably not...because this baby will never come. [sad face]

I had an appointment the next day to go into the hospital or birth center to see Pauline the midwife and hopefully induce labor. I didn't exactly have a medical reason to induce labor. I just had been waiting for so long and I was already 5 centimeters dilated (FIVE!) and my membranes had been swept twice and my back hurt like the dickens (after MONTHS of physical therapy to avoid just such a thing) and I was ready to go. I also got myself this appointment because, for this pregnancy, I had been following a new school of thought:
Do Whatever the Flip You Want to Do and Don't Ask for Permission.

Just kidding, I asked permission, just ... I didn't shy away from asking. That's important! I asked for appointments with the midwives that I wanted to have appointments with. I asked to hear the baby's heartbeat again (please). I asked the ultrasound tech to "make sure" it was really a boy. Twice. (She was sure.) That's me waiting for the ultrasound at 20 weeks with my ominous blue shirt.

Back to the night of October 21st! After my folks left I decided we should probably start timing these contractions. Sometimes we did and sometimes we didn't time them. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I kinda had this suspicion about this round of contractions.

Jake would time them on his phone and I would often forget to tell him when they had ended. We could still see that they were 4-5 minutes apart and lasting, I don't know...maybe 50 seconds? After an hour of this I called the midwife after hours line. It was about 10pm.

Don't let this bossy lady into your waiting room.

hmv's Tips for an Easy Labor:

  1. Make it Short. Think minutes, not hours. Boo hours.
  2. Make it your second or third birth. Get things warmed up first. Birth canals need practice. Practice makes perfect.
  3. Make an appointment to get the baby out. This will frighten your little one into a speedy and timely birth.

DO NOT:

  1. Let anyone tell you "Oh I bet that baby will come early!" Run from these people. Something about these comments scares the baby into never coming out ever.
  2. Believe anyone who tells you things will be easier and faster this time. I didn't believe those jokers. Look at me now. Super easy/fast labor!

Anne the midwife answered my call and listened to me have a contraction. I made a little noise but mostly I handled it like a total pro so she was like, "Well, it sounds like the contractions are really regular, but you should keep timing them until they are 4-5 minutes apart and at least a minute long." Aww, crap, should have timed the duration a little better. "Also you should probably lay down and get some rest," Anne said, "I think this is probably leading up to active labor."

Well well wellllll...that was good news. Jake and I cleaned up the living room a little and made our way to bed. I can't recall if he texted his folks to warn them. I grabbed an ice pack and towel for my aching back and laid down in my nightgown, which was also a special hospital gown that I had made for me (seriously!) by a kind Indian lady on Etsy (not kidding, here is her storefront).


At 11pm, after snuggling in tight to bed, my water broke. To be frank, it practically exploded. All over the bed, the carpet on the way to the bathroom, the TWO towels I grabbed, and eventually the shower. It was a wonder that the entire house didn't fill up and threaten to drown us all.

When I first felt it, I went, "OH! ... Some water? I think?" And then I moved a millimeter and the gush happened. It was so much water I laughed and hooted and could not contain my excitement. It was happening!!

Now is as good a time as any to explain why going into labor like this was so thrilling to me. Yes, thrilling. Not terrifying. I am a woman who has endured a natural childbirth. I spent 14 hours huffing and puffing and pulsating with pitocin that made each contraction so intense that at times I wanted to pass out from the pain. I do not recommend that method of childbirth. Unless that's what you want to do, then I support what you want to do. But if you want my recommendation, I don't recommend a 100% natural pain-relief-free childbirth.

I do believe in nature though. I believe in women and our powerful bodies and our powerful drive to bring life into the world. It is an incredible thing. And I really wanted to experience that nature. I didn't want a highly medical birth all hooked up to machines with nurses and doctors telling me what to do. So scheduling that appointment for Wednesday morning was kind of a bummer. I wasn't thrilled to get poked and prodded, to have my water broken for me, to get pumped full of pitocin again, and then (yes) some pain medication. I didn't want to feel like the human machine on the end of a conveyor belt of interventions. But on balance, I really needed to have this baby and I was losing faith in nature to make it happen.

But whoa, nature came in at the 11th hour in kick ass way. Once my water broke we were off to the races. Contractions came on faster, and we had to move quickly. Jake called the midwives, his parents, my mom. The midwives told us to head straight to the hospital. Moments later (it seemed) Jake's folks were in our living room. I was doubled over the blue easy chair having a contraction and ruining my cute black leggings. (TMI? There was a LOT of water. And there was meconium in the water. If you know what that means you know what I mean about the leggings. Ick.)

Somehow I got into our car. Somehow we traveled down the Beltline and up to the hospital. Contractions continued. Jake kept talking me through each one. He was amazing. Up until this point, you see, our days had been somewhat stressful. I was emotional. I was incredibly uncomfortable. Some nights ended with us arguing or me getting upset about some little thing. Other nights ended with us eagerly anticipating what our little guy would look like and how amazing it would be to have a baby in our house again. I hoped that the night I would go into labor would be a good night. It turns out I really had nothing to worry about.

Contraction!!! (And a sweet booty to boot)

As we checked in at the front counter of the hospital I had another contraction. Right there on the counter. And YES, I had the wherewithal to ask my dear husband to capture the moment. You're welcome, world. The guy at the counter asked us, "so...you here for labor and delivery?" "Umm...YES" Jake said. (He loves this part of the story.) What the hell else do you think we might be here for in the middle of the night?!

The kind sir told my husband where he could find a wheelchair, and they wheeled me up to the 5th floor.

The hospital staff flew into action. The staff nurse checked us in while at the same time starting an IV for me while at the same time calling for the anesthesiologist. I had three things I kept running through my head during this: 1) we are with the PeaceHealth midwives, make sure they know that; 2) I am GBS-positive, so they need to run an IV with antibiotic for me as soon as humanly possible (the antibiotic makes sure that the mom doesn't pass this bacteria on to the baby and it is best if it runs for 4 hours before the baby comes out, and we knew this baby would come fast); and 3) I want an intrathecal.


"INTER-THEE-CUL," I pronounced it, and I pronounced it several times so they knew I was serious. A short, strange anesthesiologist was soon brought into the room. Despite his odd ways, he was my hero; I suspect that the intrathecal was the defining thing that made this birth my healing birth.

An intrathecal, also known as the "walking epidural," is administered by an injection into the spine. It generally contains the same mixture of narcotics and anesthesia that a traditional epidural has, but there is less of each drug. It wears off after 2-4 hours because it is not administered by catheter, so you can't turn it up or off, you just get what you get. The no-catheter thing was a huge PLUS in my book because catheters kind of freak me out. I didn't want a tube coming out of my back or out of my urethra. Even though the risk is low, there is some chance of causing permanent incontinence, and I just feel like that would really cramp my style. So no catheters for me. But Yes, pain medicine.

For me, the intrathecal worked very quickly, but it did not obliterate the pain. That was fine. I could manage the pain. Contractions remind me of waves in the ocean; they start slow like ripples, then build...build..buildBuildBUILD and CREST!... With the drugs, it worked more like ripple...ripple...build..build..BUILD/done. No crest. No incredible burst of pain in the hips. As the contractions came and went, coasting away in this tolerable, gentle way, I found myself delightfully surprised. So surprised that I started smiling and talking. Smiling!

"It's so much better," I told Jake. "It's not that bad."

Laughing away the contractions while in the on-all-fours position. easy peasy.

Laughing away the contractions while in the on-all-fours position. easy peasy.

Let's be clear: it was still very difficult and still painful, but I knew what else it could be, and it was not that. Let's just say my glass was half full right then.

So off we went. My contractions continued on and became closer together. When the midwives first checked me in the hospital, I was already 8 centimeters dilated. 8!!!!!! That means I went from 0 to 5 in the two weeks before, and from 5 to 8 in the two precious hours I was having contractions at home and then driving to the hospital. That's fast.

But we had to get to 10 centimeters, and I had a few tricks up my sleeve. My HypnoBabies training had previously taught me about the power of distraction. Although I wasn't planning to do things by the Hypno book again, I really liked this idea and totally planned to steal it. I wrote some up notecards with places and people from my life that I could think about and visualize during the contractions. Jake would read them to me and kind of walk me through each one. So, for example, he would tell me to imagine our backyard garden...think about the strawberries growing in the raised bed...remember Olivia picking the strawberries as soon as they ripened. And so on and so forth. It worked well. I dug it. Jake was a great co-captain.

My mom and dad were also aboard the baby-having ship. Yes, both my parents were there. My dad mainly rubbed my back and told me how well I was doing. You know, dad stuff. My mom did the same, but she also interacted with the nurses and midwives, and asked questions so Jake and I could focus on our thing, and also took some great pictures and video. I watched the video later and it was incredible. But it was weird. And there was a lot of my butt. Like, WAY too much. (No, don't bother scrolling ahead, it's never going to be linked here.)

Since I wasn't completely incapacitated by the drugs, and since my midwives were kickass, they let me change positions on the bed. I moved to this all-fours/child's pose for a while. It was nice. I shifted back to my right side when I got the urge to push. I planned to push on my side. I did that the first time and it worked well, and Patricia the midwife agreed that it would be a "beautiful way to push." Hells yeah. One person can grab your top leg and brace it, another person can block your bottom leg and you push on that person. It simulates a squatting position without the major downside of squatting, which is that it's F-ing impossible to squat when you're having a baby.

Although I knew I could push, I didn't want to throttle forward too fast. I pushed a little...pulled back...pushed again. When the energy rose I started pushing harder.


Now pause for a second. Suddenly I look around and see people rushing toward me. What is going on? Where are they going? Wait, they're passing me. They aren't going to me, they're going to my DAD, who has started to FAINT. Whaaa?? Can this be happening?! My first thought: "Oh my God I've destroyed my father with all this dramatic pushing, what have I done?!!" But my second thought: "No, wait, my dad is a registered nurse, he doesn't get freaked out by this stuff. What is wrong?" In the end, nothing was wrong. I mean, Dad was fine, just very dehydrated and very tired and the room was very hot (my fault, I asked them to crank it). The nurses got him some water and a chair and he felt better. Meanwhile, I got back to pushing a baby out of my uterus.

Jake is talking me through a contraction as my dad rubs my back. I'm almost ready to push.

Jake is talking me through a contraction as my dad rubs my back. I'm almost ready to push.

Pushing is not like contractions. In my opinion, it's better. It's so powerful and all-encompassing and there is just nothing like it in our human experience. (Well, there is one thing that is SORTA similar. Gross, I know, but it's true. As my friend and OB/GYN always says, if you're not pooping, you're not doing it right! Someone should needlepoint that.)

I felt very powerful in the last stage of labor. I felt in my element. In my regular life I take these cross-fit classes that are so hard, they kick your butt, but you kind of love it afterward. Pushing my baby out felt impossible at first; how can this work? Logistically it IS impossible. The reason why a 14 inch baby's head comes out of a 10cm opening is beyond comprehension. But then you just do it anyways. Nature kicks in again and you just try, knowing that it can't work...can it?

"Big push," the midwives said. And POP! He was out. Shoulders next, as Anne the midwife gently looped the cord back over his head. I reached down and felt his head emerge, impossibly, in one blessed moment. (Later they would tell me that all this pushing took only 5 minutes, but they must be lying.)

"Oh! My BOY!" I cried. And then I just cried and cried big tears of joy and relief and an emotion that has no name. It is the thing that bonds mothers. You know it when you feel it. And suddenly you are enveloped into this community of mothers. A community of women that goes back a bazzilion years and kazzilion babies. I suppose we would call it love, but there is no love like this. There just aren't words.

My favorite picture of us right after Henry was born and things settled down a bit.

For a few minutes, the NICU staff needed to take our baby into a side room and suck the fluid out of his lungs. Jake went with them. He watched as they shoved their tubes down to get the fluid and waited for him to cough, which he did, after an eternity lasting about 4 minutes. Baby boy was so blue when he came out, though they say that many babies look like that. He did not cry at first, and in the video that my mother took I heard myself tell him, "Cry!" a few seconds after he was out. This was by far the worst part of the birth for Jake. Somehow I was spared, either because I didn't understand what was happening, or because I did understand somewhere deep down that he was OK.

Jake, Patricia, Anne, me and Henry. Go team!

After we were finally reunited there was more crying and rejoicing and talking about what a "beautiful birth" this was, according to Patricia the midwife. They say you get the midwife that you need for your birth, and we certainly felt that way. Patricia brought a peaceful, calm presence to this birth, my "healing" birth. Anne brought the kind of no-nonsense/ you-can-do-this attitude that I like to see when I'm doing a cross-fit class or, you know, having a baby.

You know, it's true that you're never really "ready" to have a baby; you'll never have quite enough money or enough space or enough baby books to make you feel perfectly ready. But it is also true that you're not ready for how much love this guy is going to bring to your life. That was true when my daughter was born, and it was just as true this time as well. I am in awe of how much I love him.

Henry Jones has also graced us with relatively peaceful nights and a basically low-maintenance disposition. I don't want to jinx it, but he appears to be what the others have called an "Easy Baby." They DO exist! Of course, I will have several updates and changes to tell you about in the coming weeks, but for now, we are hopelessly, emphatically in love with our Little Henry.


You're welcome ... and I'm sorry: The end of our only-child family

Dear Olivia,

In about 2 months [update: 11 days] you will get the greatest gift that I could ever hope to give you: a sibling. He will be like you in many ways. His parents will be your parents. You will always have that in common. He will probably looks like you too, but different. And he will pick up many of the quirks and neuroses that we are no doubt passing along to our children.

I have always taken comfort in the fact that I have my sisters to talk to about issues related to family (mostly our weird mom and dad) (sorry, Mom and Dad). There will be times when you feel so alone, like no one else could possibly know what it feels like to be you. And that will be somewhat true. But you will have your brother. And he will have you. And my hope is that you two will keep that in mind and turn to each other when you need love and support.

Your dad and I love our siblings. But we did not always like them 100%. Like when Aunt Meggie was stubborn and wouldn't listen when it was time to clean up . Or when Aunt Amy Lou wanted to copy every little thing I did. Or when Aunt Maren would get out of doing chores because she was "too little." Bah! These were tough times on a big sibling. We knew we needed to love them, but man....it was hard sometimes.

We know that can happen. I'm not saying it won't make me a little sad. I want our house to be filled with love all day every day. But I will try to remember and understand.

Because we know that the gift of another sibling means the end of this very short era in your life. The era of the only child. Your dad and I got to experience this once upon a time, and we clearly grew wise and strong for it. But honestly we can't remember those years, and someday, neither will you probably. I'm not sure. Science can do some amazing things nowadays.

It is my hope that *I* remember these few short years, though, when you were my only little one. Mostly because I want to remember all my children's infancy and toddler years. But partly because this time has been special and unique. You made me become a mom. My own mom tells me that from time to time as well. I get it now. It is a special bond, and you happen to be my lucky first child who walked these firsts along with me. Your life changed mine forever.

I hope I remember

... rocking you in the living room for hours.

...watching you fall asleep on my chest after we had returned home from the hospital, hardly able to believe you were mine. And I was your mom.

...taking you to Baby swim time at Tamarack to do some of the first activity-based baby things we could think of. And watching every change on your face and little toes as you discovered the water.

...sitting with your dad at Bounce gymnastics, watching everything you did, and being so super attentive. Maybe too attentive. They wouldn't let us both hold your hands when we did the "mommy-and-me" activities, so we had to take turns.

...sneaking into your room at night after you'd fallen asleep, and coming back to the living room to report how cute you looked, and could we even believe we had made something so precious?

...taking turns trying to get you to eat baby food. Taking video of the whole messy adventure and sharing photos of your gooey face with everyone we knew.

...agonizing over our daycare choices. Sometimes convinced that the daycare was doing irreparable damage to you by withholding your pacifier. And other times convinced that we had nailed it by finding an affordable option that also taught you all the ABCs by the age of 2 and some sign language too!

When your brother arrives, we will be so prepared. What a fun family we have created so far. What a house full of love we've got. That is so directly tied to you, Olivia, and the joy you've brought just by being yourself.

I don't really like the idea that parents are more laid back for their second child. Nor is it fair to say that we "better" parents to our second child, or "worse." But we are different. We are more relaxed about some things that we can and should be relaxed about. We are more alert to other things. And we are all taking this leap together -- the adding of another family member.

You, Olivia, you seem like the one who is most prepared of all. You grab my belly and kiss your brother and tell him things. You think he is funny and silly. You felt him kick last night, and you told me that he was kicking just like *THIS* [ninja kick!]. Do you two already know each other? How did you get so wise about this little guy? I have no idea what he will be like and here you are, 10 steps ahead of me!

So here we go. He will be here any day now, and our family will be forever changed again. I am so glad I've got you with me for the adventure, Little O.

~ Mom

Here we are with our beautiful siblings! (Sorry Jake, this was the only picture I had of all 5 of us)

And here they are having a great time at our wedding reception. I could party with these girls for hours. HOURS. (And then I'd fall asleep)

Deciding to stay positive this late in pregnancy

Two completely un-profound things happened recently that have changed my perspective on this whole "being pregnant" thing. So I figured I would write about them. It's been a while since I've written and why not? Sometimes you need something small and mundane to push you in the right direction.

The first thing was this little moment that happened before I dropped Jake off at work. I had a tiny contraction (short in duration, but packing a pretty hefty punch). I started to cringe and whine and ughhhh... and Jake just kind of jumped into action and walked me through it.

"Breathe."

"I am breathing."

"No, with your mouth, like this... Remember?"

"Oh...yeah. Ok. [moment passes] Well, have a good day at work!"

So it wasn't like, earth-shattering, but it started this idea rolling in my head. And the idea was this:

STAY STRONG

Or more accurately, "Stay strong, you freaking wuss! This is going to get so much harder - you will WISH you had that tiny contraction back when you're 13 hours into labor on no sleep with this extra 30-some pounds we're packing around! Because this shit is real!!" (My inner critic is such a delight.)

But I needed this reminder. A couple weeks ago I had just the faintest *inkling* of a contraction along with some back pain. It lingered for a while, and the first thought that came to my mind was "Oh my gosh I'm in labor I can't do this I'll never make it I'm getting an epidural." Then it was over. So perhaps a slight overreaction. And a huge wake-up call.

This time around we are not taking birth classes, we aren't re-using HypnoBabies (although several techniques and ideas will be stolen from those materials), and we aren't planning for a natural birth, necessarily. This flies in the face of most everything we did last time, and I am very much at peace with that. But that doesn't mean that I want to be reaching for the magic epidural wand at the first sign of labor. No no noooo...I need to do a lot of this on my own...plus the wand apparently isn't even a thing so whatever. (crap)

Focus up! Only 3 weeks to go!

So I decided I need to focus up and stay strong. I do my kegels, I walk tall and engage my core, I don't complain.*

*as much

And it has helped. Today I actually walked across campus from a work meeting whilst smiling. For real. Which leads me to the second un-profound realization I have had:

STAY POSITIVE

Earlier on this particular journey, I was suddenly hit with the poetic euphoria of the great Stevie Nicks.

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
— Stevie Nicks, Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

There are many lines of that song that speak to me, but I do not know what they all mean. And I kind of like that. Songs like this mean different things at different times, and this line about the seasons of one's life, well...it really means something to me now.

Because the seasons are a'changing. Literally, too! But mostly figuratively. I am about to have a baby and be done with being pregnant. Probably forever. My body will never grow a little being inside of it again. Do I really want to end this season of life with a bunch of negativity? I want to celebrate this, I really do. My body is amazing! But ugh, it gets hard.

How do I handle the seasons of my life? How do I deal with the fact that this is ending and that makes me indescribably sad? The door on this chapter is closing. But at the same time it is hard (physically) to be so pregnant and so heavy and so uncomfortable in my own body. I am done with the backaches and the shooting pains and the constant commentary of strangers. I look at Jake and I long to be able to decide when and when not to disclose personal details about my life. Like when I'm going have another baby and how many I already have and how I feel in my uterus area and how dilated my cervix is. (Actually, no one has asked that yet, but God help them on the day they ever do....)

I have this theory that God made pregnancy really difficult at the end so that you would embrace the opportunity of childbirth, rather than fear it. It was a pretty clever trick. And it's working.

If you consider the metaphor of seasons, that makes sense too. Summer gets so damn hot. At some point you're like, listen, I can do without the suntan and the bikinis and all that. Give me some colorful leaves, big scarves, and pumpkin patches and let's move on already!

It's a natural progression. It certainly helps that at the end of this season, I get to start a new one with a beautiful baby boy. I get to start a mother-son relationship that will never end. And I get to go to the gym and really work out again and kind of get my body back. Forever.

Not that I'm looking too shabby as it is...

image.jpg

(you get that it's a joke, right?)

(cause I'm huge...but also sexy as hell)

Hmv's Guide to Fielding Dumb Questions

It's time for something light.

Lately, I've been getting lots of questions, many of them dumb questions. Now you might say to yourself, HEY there's no such thing as a dumb qu--- stop. Yes there is.

So I'm taking a break from serious matters to bring you this little public service announcement. Feel free to start applying it to your real life right away.

Question 1: When are you due?!

Answer: Don't ask this. At least, don't just come straight out of the gate with this one. You don't know me. I may not even be pregnant!

Ok, ok, I'm definitely pregnant. But still, be cautious here. You never know. Consider asking me about things in a different way:

"You looks splendid! How are you feeling?" <-- this question gives nothing away, and it has the added benefit of actually being a compliment

"You look great!" <-- how about that? It's not even a question! Now I can talk about it or not talk about it and there's no pressure. Sidenote: Don't keep pressing on if I just say "thanks" and move along.

"How's things?" <-- brevity is next to Godliness ... or some such thing

Question 2: Do you want a boy or a girl?

Answer: Yes.

I don't have a preference. And if I did, I don't think I would tell you, barista lady I hardly know. Or coworker that I know very well and will see every day until this baby is born. A person who will be wondering the whole time, will she really love that baby when she actually wanted the other gender?

Nope. We aren't going there. NEXT!

Question 3: Oh, it's a BOY, is Jake so excited?

Answer: Umm...yes? I mean, we are both excited. Do you mean to suggest that I am NOT as excited as Jake is? Or that Jake was waiting in anticipation, holding out on excitement until we got one of his kind? Now he's like, Heck yeah! I got a boy! So much for this pesky girl child. See you later, sweetie, I'm off to buy my boy some monster trucks!

Or do people say the reverse of this to women too? Because I don't remember anyone asking "Oh it's a girl, is Hannah so excited?" when O was born. Because that would be weird.

Question 4: Are you ready??

Answer: No. Oh shit ... what am I doing? What have I DONE?!!

Question 5: Look at you! I bet you are just like, SO done with this, huh?

Answer: The actual literal answer I gave to this comment was, "What? No! I'm only half way there. I'm fine." I've heard this one before, but never so soon.

And what the hell do you mean, look at me?? Look at what? My gigantic belly? I've got news for you toots, it gets bigger. It gets a LOT bigger. And then when you don't think it can get any bigger, it gets just a little bigger and then you push a 10lb baby out of your hoo ha. So deal with that. (She doesn't have kids...I definitely should have actually said this to her.)

Plus, PLUS, no matter when you are asking this question, the answer will always literally be No. No, I am not done yet because if I were there would be a baby in my arms instead of this enormous belly ball. Did you notice that?

Just let me enjoy the pregnancy too. Just leave room for the possibility that although I look uncomfortable to YOU, I may be feeling great inside. I'm growing a person in here. And that is pretty rad.

Here we go again...

There is a famous story in my family that goes like this: When I was 2 1/2, my sister, Amy Lou, was born. They brought her home from hospital, and my mom's best friend/my godmother, Mary, asked me, "Hannah, what did you get from the hospital?!" I answered, after a moment of hesitation --perhaps because I just needed time to process this weighted question, and perhaps because it just the moment of hesitation I needed for mischief to seep in--

"Gum," I said.  "I got a stick of gum!"

Then everyone laughs.

This was Amy Lou's actual face when she heard this story.

Despite my early reservations about being a big sister, I came around. Amy Lou and I have a great relationship now (30 years later, we did it!).

And I have a great relationship with the other one in that picture...she came along 4 years after Amy Lou in a blaze of scream-crying glory.  I have always said that Maren was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen, and that is a true truth, but she was also a very VOCAL one.

Anyways, the point is, having sisters is great. It is absolutely one of the most enriching, rewarding relationship of my life, it's wonderful. In the long run. In the short run it is new and different and therefore terrifying. From the parent's perspective, I think it is the scariest, bravest thing you can do. Having another child literally doubles your work. Some say it is more than double. But those people are very mean and should keep comments like that to themselves, or surely we will never repopulate the Earth.

So basically, that is how I feel about having a second child: it is the most wonderful thing ... it is the scariest thing.

But here we go... we're doing it! And I have some concerns.

I worry a little about Olivia taking on the role of the big sister. I worry about the little fights they will get into, the times that O will be jealous of the baby's attention, the days when O will wish she had her mom and dad all to herself again. Although I don't worry about these things too much for some reason. I don't think she will treat her little sibling like a discarded piece of gum. She has more love in her heart than that (not sure where she got it from). She talks about babies a LOT, and she loves to help take care of them at daycare. She talks about her sister too (she thinks we are having a girl, she is pretty insistent on that). She talks about where her sister will sit on the couch, which toys she will play with, how she will take a bath in the same tub as Olivia does. And I hear stories from my friends about how sweet it is to see their kids' sibling relationship blossom, and all of this makes me really excited. It sounds absolutely wonderful and adorable and heartwarming. Almost enough to make me throw myself into this adventure with total carefree excitement.

But not quite.

When we first found out that we were pregnant again, I think we had two simultaneous emotions: the first one was total excitement of course. There was never a doubt that we wanted to have two children, but we never assumed it would just happen.  So we were very grateful that we were able to get pregnant again, and so quickly too. But our second emotion was fear...fear of the unknown.

I don't know how we are going to do it all. I don't know how anyone does it all. We barely get out the door before 8am as it is right now. We are constantly a few chores behind. Our house is always almost-clean. But never all the way clean. Never ever. Call me crazy, but I don't think that adding another child to the house is going to move us into the totally tidy category.

I really like my job, and there is no chance of giving that up, but I will have to return to work sooner than I did the last time around. With Olivia, I stayed home for over 6 months. This time it will be about 3 months off, and then a quick transition from part-time to full-time work. Will that be enough time for me and the baby? Will we be able to establish a strong breastfeeding relationship and carry that on as long as we would like?

And that is just the unknown.  What about all the things we DO know this time? Newborns are SO hard. They eat, they cry, they sleep (from time to time), they poop and then they cry because they just pooped and how could you not KNOW that and also they are HUNGRY now! On this topic I have found that it is best to not focus on what you know. Just focus on the enduring hope that this child will be different than the first one and they will be an easy baby because they love you and they know that you need this.

Lastly, I have this one other little itty bitty fear. Postpartum depression. Women who have had PPD have a 50% chance of experiencing it again in later pregnancies (for all women the odds are 20%). So while I am not "doomed" by any means, it still hits me in the gut big time. It is hard to deal with this reality. I don't know just want to do with it, but I am trying to prepare for the possibility. 

...More on that topic later. Suffice it to say, it is one of the fears that I keep in my little bag of fears. 

One of goals during this pregnancy is to be open and honest and nonjudgmental about my feelings. Every single person I have spoken to who is expecting a second child has expressed pure and total joy. Including me, at least at first. It is really the only acceptable thing to say. "We are thrilled!" "So excited to be having a sibling...our family is growing!" "Of course it was planned!!" 

Haha...it actually was totally planned in our case, but you know. That doesn't mean you've thought it all through!

So now I try and tell people that yes, we are excited, thrilled, eager to start this new chapter and meet this new little guy. And we are also a little terrified. We don't know what we are getting into. We feel in over our heads sometimes. But other times we don't. Other times we listen to Olivia explaining which toys she will give to the baby to play with, and our hearts melt. My hormones go into maternal bliss overdrive and I feel a sense of calm. This will all turn out OK somehow. I know some of those friends were actually totally scared too (they told me later when it was safe). And they are all doing pretty darn good now. Their hearts grew big enough to accommodate the love for both kids. Even when they run out of sleep, or energy, or money at the end of the month, they never run out of love.

And neither will I. 

18 weeks and oh we have a belly!

Backyard fun - this girl loves the sprinkler, and I love watching her


My friend and fellow blogger from And Then They..., suggested that I should follow up this post with another after the baby is here, when I can really see how it is having two little ones.  She wrote an excellent post on that very thing, which I love.