February 2, 2015

Family of Four

We're three weeks into this whole family-of-four thing, and I've survived two whole weeks with Max back at work. I'm a mess of thankfulness for the family and friends who have brought dinners, diapers, coffee, clothes, watched Hanley, changed diapers, and just hung out- bringing a feeling of normalcy in the midst of exhaustion. That's my coping mechanism with weariness, don't give in, just keep trekking through that rough first month.

In a way it seems like we arrived here in a flash, yet have been rocking and burping for months. But we are so thankful to have Eliza Louise here with us.


After a week of intermittent but strong contractions, I was dilated to a three and feeling ready to meet our little girl. It was one day before the due date and I had the doctor strip my membranes (read up on that if you dare, I think it sounds worse than it is, but I'm also terrified of all things medical), after which I went back to work to see what else of the crazy end-of-year mess I could get done. A January baby when you work in payroll at an accounting office is less than ideal, just ask my co-workers how they feel about the last three weeks.

By 7pm that night contractions were five minutes apart and I was wondering if this was the real deal. By 9pm they were more intense and I was going to attempt some sleep since I figured I had a long labor ahead of me. By 10pm I realized no sleep was happening, trying to relax and keep breathing through contractions was taking all my focus.

For two hours I tried to distract myself walking around the house, eating, watching old 30 Rock episodes (honestly, my favorite part of the labor). By midnight the contractions were three minutes apart so we figured it was a good time to head up to the hospital (Hanley was sound asleep, the sitter sleeping downstairs with the baby monitor). 

When we arrived at the hospital my body was shaking uncontrollably and the nurse had the nerve to tell me I might not be in real labor, just my body freaking out after the membrane stripping. Between that and then being told that I had only dilated to a four after a few intense hours of labor, I almost died.

In my labor with Hanley getting from four centimeters dilation to holding the baby in my arms was twelve hours. I did it without an epidural, but I couldn't imagine twelve hours of these contractions. The nurse left the room and I told Max the whole natural childbirth thing probably wasn't going to happen. He prayed, the nurse came back in and started asking questions about my level of pain (dumbest question ever, but I forgive them), and we just kept going.

Two hours passed painfully with some throwing up and me telling Max I didn't want to do this anymore (or ever again), but smart man that he is, he just held my hand and told me I was doing great. I was too focused on the labor and answering questions about my family's medical history (another dumb question in the midst of hard labor) to think much more on the epidural. By 2:30am (two hours after being checked into the hospital) the nurse asked if she could check and see how much more I had dilated. Apparently the intensity of the contractions (and pain) had done their work, and I was at nine and a half. Obviously the epidural wasn't happening, which was okay with me.

I can't express how relieved I was to know that we didn't have much longer, but then terrified that I was soon to be pushing.

By 3am I was fully dilated and the nurses had everything ready for delivery. With some very helpful coaching on when and how much to push, Eliza was born at 3:26am, healthy and beautiful.

And here we are, a family of four.

It still feels pretty unreal.

I don't think I've been anywhere on time with both girls. In two years I forgot how much time it takes to feed, burp, and change a little one. Especially when their cuteness is so distracting. We were almost on time to meet my sister and her husband for donuts. But that's because we didn't take showers or get ready much. And it was for donuts.

Life with a newborn and a two year-old is tiring and overwhelming, and also overwhelmingly beautiful.

There are some things that have come so much easier, like nursing (HALLELUJAH!), and her diapers don't seem gross at all in comparison to the two year-old's.

But each baby has their own uniqueness and I keep wondering, is this what Hanley did? Is this normal? How do I treat this diaper rash? Who knew there were so many kinds of diaper rashes a baby could get, and SO many ways to treat them.

Hanley is so sweet with her little sister, although she's still mixed up and calls Eliza her big sister. She talks to her in the highest pitched voice, brings her toys, asks why she's crying, and seems to get the idea that she can't eat the same food as her. Last week Hanley told Eliza, "we're going to be friends". I'm pretty sure she learned it from a show, but still that's darn cute.

Of course we are all learning the transition of spreading out our time, energy, and bodies a little further than before. And leaning more on God's faithfulness to strengthen and to be our faithful supplier of peace, wisdom, and patience.