Last Firsts – An Essay in Motherhood

The following is written by our former Great Expectations columnist and regular contributor, Meagan Church. 

Seven years ago, I was newly pregnant and, honestly, a bit freaked out. Matt and I had been married for seven years and we knew we wanted kids. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom. You see, I liked my life as it was. I liked my job, I liked my freedom, I liked being in control, plus I wasn’t much of a baby person. I knew having kids would change things and I wasn’t sure I wanted to make those changes.

Fast-forward seven years. Last week we celebrated Adelyn’s first birthday. Addie, our third (and last) baby, is technically not a baby anymore. And that makes me sad. For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself paying more attention to the last moments of Addie’s baby stage. I have been taking more joy in her giggles, rocking her for a few extra minutes and just taking the time to recognize that these moments won’t last forever, and much to my surprise, that saddens me a bit.

With our first two, I often found myself wishing away the early months and years. What got me through the first few months of our colicky first child was setting mini-goals. Okay, if we make it to six weeks, things will get better. Okay, now we just need to make it to three months. Okay, now six months…. The adjustment to motherhood was a tough one and my high-needs baby didn’t make it any easier for me.

When baby number two came along, I was still worn out from the first one. I once again spent most of that first year hoping to speed through it, so we could get back to “normal” life. Then we had our last baby. Suddenly I began to enjoy the baby stage and not wish it away quite so quickly.

Don’t get me wrong; there have been moments along the way that I’ve wanted to speed through. For instance, I very clearly remember that in those last moments of labor before she was born, the mantra that got me through it was, “Just push her out and you will never have to go through labor again. It will all be over. Just push. Just push.” There were also fussy breastfeeding sessions that made me long for toddlerhood when she would be weaned.

Yet overall, I have been enjoying her babyhood more than with the first two. I’m sure some of that has to do with the fact that I have a few years of experience under my belt. But I think a greater part is that I realize this stage of life we are in is about to change and we will never return to it. With every milestone Addie reaches (signing, crawling, talking, walking), I can’t help but think these are our last firsts. This is the last time one of our kids will reach this milestone for the first time…just when I felt like I was actually getting the hang of things.

I know they must grow up and that things will continue to change. But for just a few minutes longer, I want to hold on to my baby and rock her and sing to her and kiss her full cheeks. Seven years ago, I had no idea that I’d ever want those things so strongly. Seven years ago, I was afraid of how motherhood would change me. Yet, seven years later, I realize how blessed I am to get to experience it, and to grow and learn right alongside my kids. Who knew these last firsts would happen so quickly?

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 9 Months

It’s hard to believe that Adelyn has now been living outside the womb for longer than she was inside. She’s reaching such a fun age. She’s well beyond the helpless newborn stage, but not yet to the sassy toddler time. She’s in a nice place where her personality is beginning to show and she’s continually learning new things. She has started to army crawl and continues to roll to where she wants to be. She doesn’t like to spend much time sitting. Instead, she will quickly transition to lying down so she can move around. Adelyn has been trying to push up onto her knees, but the bulky cloth diaper has made it difficult for her to completely master crawling on a
ll fours. I’m sure it won’t be much longer now before she figures out it. Though she has taken a liking to standing, so I wonder if perhaps she’ll skip crawling and go straight to walking. This of course has made baby proofing necessary. With Legos and small doll accessories, we’ve been training our older two kids to keep small objects well out of her reach or quarantined in their own rooms.

We introduced solids just before she turned eight months old. We quickly discovered that she did not care to be spoon fed. Instead, she prefers finger foods that she can eat for herself. She already prefers independence. While it does make for messier mealtimes, it is nice that I don’t have to try to feed her and myself at meals. It does mean that I have to be creative in preparing foods so she can eat them. For instance, instead of giving her applesauce, I sauté apples until they were soft enough for her to swallow. One of her favorite meals is what I call an Addie cake. I mix oatmeal, pumpkin, cinnamon and water together and make sort of a pancake that she can feed to herself. She consistently gets one meal of solids a day and sometimes two or three, depending on her napping and whether she is awake when we are eating. She continues to get most of her nutrition from breastfeeding and is still nursing four to five times a day.

 

Much to my surprise, she just had her first cold a few weeks ago. With older siblings, I assumed they would bring home germs and she would be sick sooner than this. Her first cold wasn’t too bad, basically just a stuffy nose, but a week ago she experienced her first fever. It lasted a few days and the poor thing was miserable. Once she finally bounced back and her happy self returned, we realized just how bad she had been feeling. She is typically quick to smile and giggle, but she didn’t feel like doing much of that while she was sick. Thankfully those laughs and grins have returned and she’s once again a baby on a mission to explore the world around her instead of just wanting to cuddle in her mama’s arms.

 

As for me, I’m happy to report that I’m back within a couple pounds of pre-Adelyn weight. It has been a slow, steady and frustrating journey, but I can now see progress. My core has lost a lot of strength and my stomach is not back to where it was before, but I am fitting into old jeans. That’s motivation to keep moving forward. Since I’m breastfeeding, I haven’t been able to jump back to the strenuous workouts that I’d like. I’ve had to pace myself and remind myself that my baby’s nutrition is more important than a number on the scale. Before long, she will be weaned, I will have no more babies to breastfeed and then I can sweat until my heart’s content without worrying about my milk supply. In the meantime, I need to be patient.

 

I recently wrote a blog post about how I have felt since Adelyn was born. I’ve felt as though I have been continually operating at-capacity, that I’ve been much busier than I had anticipated. Of course I knew that babies take time and attention, but so many had told me that transitioning from one to two kids was more difficult than two to three. What I didn’t account for was how much the older two kids’ school and play activities would impact the baby’s and my own schedules. Before Adelyn was born, the only New Year’s resolution I made was to not make any resolutions or set any goals for her first year of life. Instead of putting pressure on myself to achieve something, I needed to take a deep breath and just focus on getting through my first year as a mom of three kids. I thought I was giving myself a bit of a reprieve. I didn’t realize how consumed I’d be by just the daily tasks for diapering, napping, cooking, cleaning, laundering, and don’t forget a bit of time for working also.

 

There have been moments over these last nine months where I have felt overwhelmed by my task list…a list that pales in comparison to what I used to accomplish in a day or a week. In those moments, I have to remind myself that these days aren’t about checking off items. They are about being interruptible enough that the laundry can wait if Adelyn needs a few extra cuddles. Even in those moments when I feel like all I’ve done that day was manage sleep schedules, I must remind myself that these days are fleeting. Soon enough I won’t have a baby to rock or a toddler who wants me to rub her back as she drifts off to sleep. Sure the floors could stand to be mopped, but that can wait because the reality is that babies don’t. After all, we are three-quarters of the way through Adelyn’s babyhood. I don’t want to miss a moment of the last quarter.

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 6 Months

Adelyn hit her six-month growth spurt last week and I have to say, it was great. Her growth spurts have been her best feeding times. In those moments, I’m reminded of what good nursers my first two children were. Adelyn ate like a champ and I swear it seemed like we could hear her growing in her sleep.

 

Speaking of sleep, the growth spurt seemed to disrupt her nights. A week later, we are still trying to get things back in order. She has been a champion sleeper from birth, but since the spurt, she has had problems staying asleep at bedtime. She has gotten into the habit of waking about 45 minutes after going to bed. Then sometimes she’ll wake 45 minutes after that. Some nights, it’s as if she thinks that first sleep cycle was just an evening nap and she’ll struggle to get back to sleep for a couple of hours. We’re trying to figure out her schedule and make adjustments to help her get through this hiccup…let’s hope it’s just a short-term hiccup.

 

Along with the growth spurt, she has started rolling around a lot more and is getting close to sitting up by herself. The girl is a wiggler (just as she was in utero), so she’s still getting the hang of balancing and not throwing herself backwards or belly flopping forwards. I know that once she figures out crawling and walking, the girl is going to just take off. Baby proofing will be even more stressful with two other kids in the house, especially since our oldest has just gotten into Legos. Not to mention we might have to put away the dog toys before she mistakes one for a teething toy.

 

She is already a baby on the go. With our first two, we sort of hibernated for the first year of their lives, but we haven’t been able to do that with Adelyn. From soccer games to hiking and a weekend away in Chicago, Adelyn has been a real trooper snoozing in her stroller at the Museum of Science and Industry or catching a short nap in the Ergo as we hiked through the woods. Thankfully she is portable and pretty easy going.

 

I have to say that I’ve gotten more me-time earlier on with this baby than I did with my first two and I’ve been intentional about making that happen. As a work-from-home/stay-at-home mom, I don’t get out of the house (or my workout clothes) on a regular basis. Whether it’s a solo trip to the grocery store or a late night movie with the ladies, I have tried to take time away to refresh and relax for a bit. Yes, even the grocery store can be relaxing. That’s something my pre-mom self never would’ve understood!

 

 

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 5 Months

Adelyn is five months old today and it seems fitting that one of my best friends just had her second baby yesterday. It has gotten me to thinking about how far we’ve come in just a few months. Adelyn has already started rolling over, smiling and giving us the best belly laughs. She can interact with us (to a certain degree) and we can already see her personality coming out. It was only five months ago that she joined us, yet it seems like she has always been a part of the family.

I am happy to report that I’ve continued working at dropping the pregnancy weight and I’m making progress. I’m within seven pounds of my pre-Adelyn weight. I even completed a 5K a couple of weeks ago. I have run several 5Ks over the years, but there was a certain amount of satisfaction that came with crossing the finish line less than five months post-partum.

Nursing has continued to be up and down. As a whole, things are definitely better. She has fallen into somewhat of a routine of nursing five times a day. I still struggle with thinking she should be eating more frequently, as her siblings did. But her growth is still going strong, so she’s definitely getting the nutrition she needs. She does still fuss until letdown happens, which continues to baffle me. When we give her a bottle, we are sure to use the newborn nipples so she doesn’t receive too much gratification from an easy flow. She doesn’t get a bottle too often, so I would think she would be used to the rhythm of our nursing sessions, but she still puts up a fuss until letdown happens. I still have hope that some day she will be an easier baby to nurse. Some day maybe I’ll get to sit through an entire nursing session from start to finish. Maybe someday I can nurse her in public once again.

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 4 Months

I’m going to be completely honest: I’m ready to have my body back. I know I talked about this in my last post, but we’re four months out now and I’m ready for all of this weight and softness to be forever gone. A few weeks ago, we had a family picture taken at my niece’s birthday party. I was horrified when I saw it. I still look four to five months pregnant. Mind you, I had a stomach for a few months after having my first two kiddos, but this time around it seems to be more stubborn, lingering longer than before…or longer than I remember. The good news is that I have started watching what I eat more and I’ve started the TurboFire workout series, plus I’ve been targeting my abs with extra crunches and leg lifts. I know with time and hard work, I will see results. I just hope those results come quickly because I’d like to head to the beach soon…or at least have clothes that fit me again.

It is hard to believe that Adelyn is now four months old. This girl has amazed me in several ways. Her sleep is still pretty good overall. I’d say she is sleeping roughly 16 hours a day. This astonishes me since my first child seemed to be awake for 16 hours a day. She has been generous with her smiles and giggles, and she rolled over for the first time just a few days ago. I was surprised not only by how soon she rolled over, but by the fact that she chose to go from her back to her stomach before she mastered rolling over from stomach to back first. From the time she was in utero, she seemed strong and she continues to be that way.

Breastfeeding has continued to be an up and down battle, but I am happy to report that we are falling into a more positive rhythm as of recent. A few weeks ago, I was frustrated and fed up with how difficult she was to feed. I finally packed her up and went to a breastfeeding clinic. By the time I got there, she was extremely hungry, so much so that she was more interested in crying than she was in latching on. Unfortunately the clinic was a bit busy and no consultant could help me until Adelyn had already finished eating (well, first she screamed for a few minutes, disturbing everyone else’s babies, but with some coaxing she finally settled down). When I explained to the consultant that she was fussing and I was having to walk around with her at every feeding, she had no advice for me other than what I had already tried for myself. I went home discouraged. I started reading “Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting” by Pamela Druckerman and I was inspired when I learned that French babies feed only four times a day by four months of age. I had been trying to get her to eat six or seven times each day. I thought that was what she needed. Her siblings still fed every two to three hours at her age. So, I resolved to back off and watch her cues better.

She has started feeding generally five times a day and it has been going much better. She might fuss some, while she impatiently awaits letdown (especially in the middle of the night), but that fussing is nothing compared to the screaming she did before. We are making progress and I’ve even been able to sit down during a few feedings. I guess my doctor was right; I just needed to back off and let her tell me when she was hungry. My comparing her to her siblings made me think that surely, she had to be hungry more often than she was. Again, she has shown me that just because she is my third child, it doesn’t mean I have everything figured out.

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 3 Months

I am now three-months post-partum. In some ways it is sad to think that three months ago, I felt baby kicks and flips from inside the womb for the last time. I have always enjoyed being pregnant and I admit that I do miss it, not enough to have another baby, but it is sad to think that I won’t experience it again. At the same time, three months ago I was waddling my way up the stairs, out-of-breath when I reached the top and longing for the days when I could once again lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement. And so, as my son practiced soccer in the rain the other night, I had a choice to make. I could sit in the warm, dry comfort of the van and read my book. Or, I could grab my running shoes and go for a run. I chose to run.

 

I have also been enjoying sleeping on my stomach once again. At the end of my pregnancy, I was having a hard time finding a comfortable position to sleep. Now I can stretch out however I wish. Of course the amount of time I get to stay in that position depends on Adelyn. Thankfully she is still sleeping well at night. My husband and I are so grateful that our worst sleeper was our first one, when we were six years younger and didn’t have two others to care for after long, rough nights. We have realized that six years makes a big difference when you are a parent. We feel so much older and more tired now.

 

I know that Adelyn was born just three months ago, but I am struggling with the my post-baby body. Thankfully the weight has been coming off. I gained 40 pounds with my pregnancy and now have lost over 25 pounds. I know that’s good and I should be happy with that, but I cannot wait to have all the weight gone. I have been hiding out in sweats and yoga pants. I dread having to make myself presentable for the public. I have a closet full of clothes and only a handful fit. I am too frugal to go out and purchase a lot of clothes when I hopefully won’t be wearing them for too long. I know they say it takes nine months to put on the weight and you should give yourself nine months to take it off, but with swimsuit season rapidly approaching, I am anxious to get back my pre-baby body. Ironically, I wasn’t all that pleased with my pre-baby body, but I would take it without hesitation right now. After all, I don’t really want to sport workout clothes to the beach.

Great Expectations: Meagan @ 2 Months Postpartum

I just got back from Adelyn’s 2-month-check up. I was looking forward to this appointment because a few weeks ago she started giving me some problems breastfeeding. She has been crying when I try to get her to eat. I tried a variety of things to coax her into feeding. I found that standing and walking with her worked best. This was all new territory for me because my first two were excellent nursers and would take the breast anytime it was offered. Not only was Adelyn not taking it at every offering, but also she was wanting to space out feedings and then would only nurse for about five minutes per feeding. So what did the doctor have to say? Chill out. At least that’s my interpretation of what he said.

 

During our struggles, Adelyn seemed to be getting enough to eat because she was acting fine and had enough wet diapers. But it bothered me that she seemed to nurse infrequently and quickly. Of course I turned to books and online sources. They all tell how often a newborn should feed (every two hours), but they fail to go beyond that. How was I supposed to know the ideal frequency for a two-month-old? After all, my first two fed every two to three hours for months. The books also all warned that if a baby doesn’t feed often enough, your supply could suffer. Great. So now I wasn’t only worrying about her ability to thrive, but also the level of my milk supply. Who said breastfeeding was easy? This being my third child, you’d think I would be a seasoned pro. After all, I nursed the first two exclusively for nine months each and they weaned after the age of one. The problem was the first two were very similar and never gave me any issues. They fed like champs. Well, perhaps they fed too well, as you can see below from Kenna’s plethora of fat rolls.


As for Adelyn, I had no idea how her weight was doing. I was tempted to put her in the produce scale at the grocery store to see what she weighed. Instead, I waited for today’s appointment. Turns out that she is holding steady in the 50th percentile at nearly 12 pounds. She is growing ever longer, measuring 24 inches, which puts her in the 95th. (She apparently didn’t get my height genes.) When the doc saw her numbers and took a look at her, he basically said she’s completely healthy and thriving. I told him about the fussy feedings and all I had done to try to get her to feed. He said I had done exactly as he would’ve recommended. Given her numbers, he thinks I have an abundant supply and she can handle a larger quantity at an earlier age than my first two kids could, plus she is so efficient that she can drain the breast quickly.

 

So what I’ve learned today is that each child is different. Just because you have three kids, it doesn’t mean you are a pro by any means. Breastfeeding can be stressful, but a healthy baby knows what she is doing. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath. And at other times you need to throw away the books.

Great Expectations: Meagan @ 7 Weeks Postpartum

It has been seven weeks since Adelyn was born. In some ways, it seems like she has been with us much longer. In other ways, it seems like it was just yesterday. So how is it going? I’m going to be honest: it’s been an up and down experience.

Adelyn is doing well overall. She is growing well and sleeping like a champ, which is much appreciated. Breastfeeding has been pretty good, but within the last couple of weeks, she has started fussing during feedings. The worst was just a few days ago when she would act hungry, but cry every time she attempted to latch on. After trying a few things, I finally discovered that nursing her while standing and walking seems to soothe her. So, for the past few days, my back and arms have been getting an extra workout. I’m going to have to figure out how to nurse in the sling to give them a rest. I have never quite gotten the positioning right to do that, but it’s time I learn. I’m thinking her fussy feedings are due to acid reflux. All three kids have had it and have been big-time spitters. The older two grew out of it by the age of one, but they never fussed during feedings like Adelyn has. I’m hoping this is a short and passing phase. My arms and back would appreciate the rest and I’m not exactly sure how I can nurse in public, while dancing around with her.

A lot of people have asked how the transition from two to three kids has gone. At moments, there is no real difference. As I said, she’s a great sleeper, so that helps. But, at other times, all three kids and the dog seem to need something at once, and I’m tasked with trying to prioritize everyone’s needs and urgencies. Jonas and Kenna love their little sister, and Jonas especially has been a great helper. He loves to hold and rock her. While in theory Kenna likes her sister, she would still prefer to have more undivided attention. At times we’re all in sync and things are going smoothly. At other times, well, we could all use a good nap.

I must say that I have been surprised by the sense of busyness that I have felt. I have always preferred to hide out at home for the first few months, but that’s not as possible with two other kids. Even still, I’ve made sure to keep our schedule open and quiet, but it’s the everyday tasks that have kept me busier than I expected. I’m still figuring out how to fit in focused kid time, home-cooked meals, workouts, good sleep, cleaning, showers, etc., along with getting back into my work. Being pulled in more directions than what I’ve been accustomed to, I’ve had to realize that some things will not get accomplished. Thankfully I have a husband who has been cooking more and the kids have been taking on greater responsibility. In the end, the house hasn’t been dusted and the kitchen floor really needs to be mopped, but I’ll spend the afternoon napping instead. And maybe I’ll get that shower in sometime tomorrow.

Great Expectations: The Birth Story of Meagan & Baby Adelyn

Congratulations to the Giving Birth with Confidence Great Expectations blogger, Meagan, who gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on January 26. Below is the story of her birth to baby number 3. 

 

This being my third pregnancy, you’d think I was a pro at giving birth. Well, after my 16-hour labor with number one, you’d think that would earn me some sort of pro status. Even still, I know that every birth is different and that scared me. Going in to my third pregnancy, I had certain reservations because my first two had gone so well. Could I be so lucky once again? I felt my time was running out. Not to mention the fact that my open-mindedness from my first pregnancy was becoming a lot more closed off. I did a good amount of research for my first and had a good sense for what I hoped for in the birth. But having done far more reading and fact gathering, my mind was beginning to close off and strongly oppose certain options I had previously been open to. I began to have this feeling that if things didn’t go as planned, I would somehow be disappointed and left to deal with those emotions post-partum. So how did it all turn out? Let’s start at the beginning….

On Wednesday, January 25 (five days before my due date) I woke up with mild contractions around 2:00 a.m. They came off and on without much regularity or intensity. I tried my best to sleep, but knowing that this meant the end was near, task lists and details began running through my head. I got little sleep that night. The contractions did not increase at all as I went about my day. I hesitated telling anyone because I assumed I still had plenty of time. I did tell my husband before he left for work and I also called my mom. With having to make plans for the whereabouts of the two older kids, I needed to at least inform a few people. But I refrained from making any Facebook status updates. After all, I had a history of going post-due. Would this child really come before the due date?

Around 9:00 p.m. they began to come more regularly, but were still not intense. I started to think that perhaps the baby would be arriving soon since both my first labors had followed this same pattern of early morning contractions followed by little action the next day and then active labor that night. But I was still having a difficult time making a decision as to whether or not the grandparents should get in place for the kids. I had a fear that this wasn’t going to progress into active labor and then my parents would’ve had a sleepless night on our couches for no reason. At 11:30 p.m., I was still being indecisive, but called Mom anyway. We finally decided it would be best if they came up since it would take an hour for them to get here and we didn’t want things to progress faster than they could drive.

Around 1:30 a.m., my parents were in place and we headed to bed. I slept for about an hour when sleep no longer became an option. My contractions were growing in intensity and coming more frequently though their spacing was not completely consistent. They would be 7 minutes followed by 10 minutes apart and then down to 5 minutes. Back and forth they’d go. So, I laid there, breathing through them, still in denial that I was heading into active labor. Finally around 4:30 a.m., I woke Matt to say that he should probably get dressed because we might want to consider going to the hospital at some point. Yes, I was still indecisive even though they were getting to be as close as 4 minutes apart. The thing is, the pain was tolerable. I was still breathing through them. I had begun rocking and swaying to ease through them, but in between, I was still talking and joking just fine. My history had been that once into active labor, I stopped talking and shut out the world around me until delivery.

After getting dressed and packing my bag, the contractions had slowed slightly, so instead of heading out the door, we watched an episode of “30 Rock.” I might’ve missed a joke or two here or there, but otherwise I was still focusing on the show. If it weren’t for the fact that my contraction counter app was saying the contractions were back down to 4 minutes apart, I probably would’ve fired up another show. Instead, we decided to head to the hospital.

On the way there, one of my fears began to come true. To this day, I am certain that part of the reason my first labor was so long is because I went to the hospital too soon, which caused me to stall. After reading Ina May Gaskin’s thoughts on the sphincter law, I understand how such a transition can cause labor to actually reverse to a certain degree. I still wonder how things would’ve gone differently with my first delivery had I stayed home longer. So, when my contractions slowed with this one and I had only one on the way there, I was afraid we were regressing. While it was great that I wasn’t squirming and contorting my body the entire way to the hospital, it was upsetting because that meant the last two contractions were 10 minutes apart. I began to wonder if we’d made the wrong call. Should we have watched more Hulu before heading in?

We walked into the hospital at 5:30 a.m. I was still clear minded and able to talk. Again, I doubted whether or not this was for real. In triage, I was able to answer all of the nurse’s questions and even cracked a few jokes. When I arrived during labor #2, I was near transition and was 9.5 cm dilated. There was no joking at that point. When the resident finally checked me, I was very relieved to hear I was 7 cm and would be heading to my birthing room soon. And the tub was already being prepared for me.

The tub was part of my birth plan. I had labored in it with #1 for a long time, but got out before delivering. I wanted to attempt a water birth with #2, but she arrived too quickly to even make it into the tub. The nurse asked if I wanted to just labor or actually birth in the water. I told her definitely labor, but I still wasn’t sure about birthing. She went on to encourage me to try a water birth. She said it was really amazing. I was so impressed that she was actually recommending a water birth. That put me at ease for being in the hospital where hands-on interventions can oftentimes trump natural experiences.

The tub was ready for me once we got into the delivery room. My midwife hadn’t arrived yet, but the nurse helped me into the tub. The water felt great and offered some relief as my contractions gained intensity. Even still, I was talking in between contractions and at times thinking to myself, “Okay, let’s get this show on the road and have this baby already.” Then transition hit.

I had horrendous back labor with my first two pregnancies. So far, the back labor hadn’t hit with this one. But once I entered transition, I began to feel it with full force. I had taken somewhat of a squatting position in the tub, leaning over the backside of it, so Matt could rub my lower back through each contraction. This was his main role in the first two labors and we joked that he nearly rubbed off his fingerprints during both. By this time, my midwife had arrived, but was with another woman who was near delivering. We were told to pull the call button cord if I felt the urge to push. A nurse came in and out of the room, but for the most part, it was the two of us just hanging out, waiting for our baby and it suited us just fine. Having been through this before, we knew how to work our way through it as a team.

By now I had begun vocalizing during contractions. This was all new to me, but it helped give me release. I was embarrassed at first. After all, the door to my room was open and I thought I would scare off any laboring woman who had any inkling of trying for a natural birth. After hearing me, there was probably an increased demand for epidurals. And then the urge came on.

I had reached that point in labor when I was done. I didn’t know if I could deal with it anymore. Should I give in and get a shot of Nubain? I had in the past, but it had never done anything for me. Could I hang on? But what if I still had an hour to go? But then the urge to push hit.  Mid-contraction I yelled, “Pull the cord!” Not thinking Matt heard me the first time (though I was certainly less than quiet about it), I yelled it again. He assured me that he had pulled it and in a moment two nurses and my midwife were by my side. With the jets on in the tub, I couldn’t hear well. I thought the midwife was telling me to push. So I did. I realized later that I hadn’t been checked since I was admitted. How did I (or the midwife) know if I was complete? Well, my body knew well enough because I began pushing, which was such a relief. They asked me if I wanted to get out of the tub. At that point, I was focused on one thing: having this baby. I didn’t want to be moved. I was good where I was. Suddenly I felt the baby descending followed by my water breaking. Being able to push made the contractions so much more bearable. I had something to do, a goal and an end in sight. With some good, strong pushes, the baby was born at 7:42 a.m. on January 26.

The midwife declared, “It’s a girl!” and placed Adelyn Grace on my chest—all 8 lbs. 3 oz. and 21.5 in. of her (not too shabby for being 4 days ahead of schedule). Adelyn let out a few small whimpers and then began to fall asleep. She was so at peace, or as her name means, serene. We stayed in the tub for a while, waiting for the cord to stop pulsing. As I held Adelyn in my arms, the midwife cleaned us up and soon we were moving to the bed. As I stood, I was amazed by how good I felt. In fact, I did not require any pain relief even after birth. Sure my body needed rest and relaxation, but otherwise I felt great. The hospital gave us ample time and space to bond. We stayed in the room for a few hours. I ordered breakfast and Adelyn nursed. And nursed. And nursed.

Looking back, I am still amazed by a few things: how quickly it all went, how smooth it was, how little assistance we really needed, how peaceful she was at birth, what a great nurser she was from the start and how great I felt once labor ended. I soon realized my initial fears and hesitations were for naught. And I also realized how blessed I have been to have had the births I’ve had.

Great Expectations: Meagan @ 36 Weeks

The holidays have passed us and now it’s full-speed ahead to the baby’s arrival. I had my 36-week check-up today. My midwife said next week I will technically be full-term, so theoretically, the baby could arrive at any point after that. It’s crazy enough to think of the baby being here in four or five weeks, let alone one or two. I suppose that means we should start getting out the diapers, clothes and other baby paraphernalia.

I must say it was a little strange being pregnant during the holidays. My first two were born in October, so I had newborns during Christmas. Now, I got to hear all the comments of how massive my belly is. Are you sure there isn’t more than one in there? Are you really going to be able to hold out another month? Then there is always the question that comes with a head tilt. So, [tilt head] how are you feeling? Most people also give a little wince, expecting to hear horror stories about hemorrhoids, indigestion, varicose veins and other such maladies. But, I’m still holding strong and feeling good, other than the heaviness that comes from hauling around a record-breaking watermelon all day.

At my check-up today, I had my group B strep test. Now I get to wait a week to see what the results are. I’m hoping it is negative because I really don’t want to have to labor with an IV. I made it through the first two deliveries with no wires connecting me to anything and I’m hoping for the same this time around. I’m just concerned that by being connected, I will be distracted and not able to labor with full focus. Not to mention that if this delivery goes as quickly as my last one, I wouldn’t even be in the hospital long enough to get the full dose of antibiotics. So, here’s hoping for another negative test result!