Friday, July 18, 2014

Jesus is Better

I have a problem. I want my baby to remain tiny, while I'm simultaneously doing everything I can to overcome his poor initial weight gain. Today he weighed 8 pounds and 14 ounces which is awesome! Up a whopping 12 ounces in 12 days! But also, sad. His newborn-sized clothes are getting pretty snug, as are his newborn diapers. His Shar Pei-esque elbows and knees are fillng out and he even has the tiniest of rolls on his legs and arms. He is precious and wonderful and I am filled with pride and also an inordinate amount of sorrow as he grows.

Like, it's an actual problem. I shouldn't be this sad.

I am accustomed to working with babies in their first 28 days of life. Plenty of NICU babies stay longer than that, but since they were so early and/or so sick, most of them still leave acting like a newborn. I was nervous that I would like my baby less as he got older and bigger. Thankfully, that has not been the case, and it's so fun to watch his coordination develop and see recognition in his eyes. (Do you ever think... how weird would it be to not be able to just reach out and grab something? To have your arms and legs move around but not have control over them? So crazy! Babies have to learn so much.)

The passage of time is something that's always been hard for me to deal with for some reason, and what better than babies as an example of an accelerated version of time passing?! People tell me, "it goes too fast!" "You'll blink and he'll be this age (gesturing to whatever sized toddler they're walking around with)." And my least favorite, "Enjoy every moment before it's gone!"

Rather than helping me enjoy this time, these comments give rise to anxiety and nameless fears of missing out as time passes me by. I still haven't been able to address the root of this issue, but when I brought it up to a friend, she had such wise words:

"The truth is, we think that either 'being in the moment' and 'staying present' or the opposite, 'if it could only be like ___ in the next stage,' will satisfy us. And the truth is, we're all insatiable. We all want more of whatever we don't have. It's an interesting thing in motherhood to rest in Christ and be grateful for whatever God has handed us this day. All our expectations fly out the window. Otherwise we're left disappointed and wanting."

She is a wise, wise friend.



We've sung this song a few times at church, and the refrain "Jesus is better" keeps running through my head every time I find myself mourning something silly. Jesus is better than squishy cheeks and sleepy newborns and I simply have to believe that.

If you need me, I'll be bunkered in, listening to this song on repeat while I snuggle my baby.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Baked Oatmeal Squares

Continuing on the theme of quick, healthy snacks, I adapted these oatmeal bars for a change up from cookies for a few days. But instead of making bars, I divided the batter between 12 muffin tins for ease of individual serving.
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free rolled oats (not instant oats) 
  • 1 cup brown or white rice flour
  • 3 tbsp chia seed
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1.5 cups almond milk (or other milk)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
  • 2 tbsp nut or seed butter
  • 1 banana, chopped small
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup toppings as desired
Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin tins or an 8 inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, blend the milk, syrup, banana, nut butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add oats, flour, chia seeds, flax, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and stir until combined.

Pour mix into prepared pan and top as needed. (I put chocolate chips on half of mine and swirled strawberry jam on top of the other half.)

If using an 8x8 pan, bake for 35-40 minutes.

If using muffin tins, bake 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!



(((In addition to these and lactation cookies, I've been eating lots of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins from PaleOMG and protein bites from Fitnessista. That is, when I'm not eating cookies or muffins my mom made for us!)))






The First 6 Weeks

In some ways it's hard to believe it's been 6 weeks. Then again, the last 6 weeks have really just felt like one long day, so time markers seem a bit irrelevant. I don't plan to write monthly baby updates on the blog, since that's what Noah's baby book is for. But since this blog is still our family record, and writing is how I seem to solidify and process things, I want the record to show that 6 weeks postpartum is when I finally felt like I got my head above water.

That's not to say I have things figured out (ha!) but simply to say that I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable in this new role. I'm also starting to feel a little more like myself again, as evidenced by the fact that I'm blogging again, for one. But also by the fact that the desire to eat more vegetables and less sugar is creeping in, as well as the desire to exercise again for sanity purposes!

One of my tasks as postpartum nurse at the Birth Center this past year has been to administer the postpartum depression screen at 2 weeks and at 6 weeks, so I'm fairly comfortable saying that I don't have postpartum depression. Anxiety, on the other hand, has been out of control!

More random thoughts on the past 6 weeks since it's been hard to form a coherent post these days:

...I thought having a baby during my favorite season-- summer-- would be awesome! Don't get me wrong, it's great that it's not freezing and gray outside, and that we can take morning or evening walks, and that we don't have to worry about icy roads. But last I looked it was spring, and now suddenly it's mid-July and I've spent most of summer indoors! This is usually the time I intensively refill my sunshine reservoir by spending lots of time working out outside, reading books outside, and swimming. I need summer to fill that bank so it can last me through the long, dark winters. I'm hoping to get outside more, soon!

...If labor brought out my quiet, meditative side, postpartum has absolutely brought out my socially anxious side. The desire to eat, sleep, and breathe baby and hide away as a family of three has been incredibly high. The amount of distress I felt having to get out to (what felt like daily) appointments in the first few weeks was ridiculous. Granted, we've had a lot of appointments: pediatrician visits, numerous weight checks, lactation consultations, OB visits, chiropractic appointments, etc. But when your baby doesn't breastfeed well you really don't want to sit down for an hour in a strange environment while they try to eat, so everything felt so rushed and time was at a premium.

...Speaking of breastfeeding, it seemed to be going fairly well, albeit exhausting, in the first 2-3 weeks. He ate often, and long. I easily spent 10 hours a day sitting and feeding him. His wet and dirty diapers were always on track, yet his weight was not. I wish I'd written more during those weeks because they're already fuzzy! I know I didn't sleep when the baby slept... I think I used his one long nap of the day to make food for myself haha! But if I thought I didn't have a lot of free time then, it shrank drastically during the third week when I had to start pumping and supplementing with bottles to get Noah back to birth weight. It worked! But to the incredible detriment of my sleep and my sanity. If you asked me how I was doing at 2 weeks out, I was really okay. Incredibly anxious, a little tired, but mostly happy. Things were going how I expected them to go at 2 weeks out. But by 3 weeks, I was an exhausted mess with really just an hour of free time between rounds of feeding, supplementing, and pumping. We're just now starting to back off on pumping and slowly dropping a bottle every few days.

...I unfortunately have a list of regrets from Noah's first few weeks and I feel like between visitors and my own anxiety, I missed so much of his sleepy newborn days. It's something I've really been struggling with and all I can do is pray that God softens those regrets, helps me focus on the sweet times we have together now, and helps me remember to do things a little differently the next time around.

...I never got to nest, the house isn't finished, and while I'm more okay with that than I was before labor started, it's still pretty stressful. I sit here 6 weeks postpartum having watched Ross and my parents do every single bit of "nesting" around the house as I feed this baby. Half of our belongings are still in boxes. I don't know where most of my non-maternity clothes are (although it's not like I could fit into them anyway). Really, I don't know where anything is.   **That being said, my parents did an incredible amount of work while they were here visiting and Ross and I simply couldn't have come home from the hospital to a live-able house without their help. Thank you!!!**

...Kudos to the c-section moms. Post-partum recovery has been really difficult for me, and I cannot fathom recovering from major surgery while taking care of a baby.

...The best things you can say to someone post-delivery are, "good job Mama!" and "You look amazing!"

...If you're visiting a mom with a new baby, please bring food. Seriously. It feels selfish to say that but wow, procuring food for myself during that first week was really difficult and we couldn't have done it without the generosity of others.

All this being said, I think I've had 8 jobs since graduating college 7 years ago (most of the time working more than one job at a time) but this is by far the best job, with the best boss, that I ever could've asked for. I sincerely love motherhood even more than I thought I would and I'm so grateful for this time!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Newborn Products

I feel like I've really been pretty minimal (out of necessity and personal preference) regarding buying ALL THE THINGS that they market for pregnant women and new moms. However, I wanted to write a quick post to help me remember what products I have found useful during such a unique time. Let me know if I need to add anything!

PREGNANCY

Body pillow- I asked for one for Christmas as an alternative to the fancy "pregnancy-shaped" pillows because it was much much less expensive and seemed more versatile. I was already a side sleeper, so this replaced the small pillow between my knees and was much more comfortable and supportive as my joints got looser and my body got bigger. My grandma bought mine at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Support hose- I started getting painful vericose veins around 15 weeks and I wish I'd bought some good hose the minute I started having symptoms! I finally bought some around 18 weeks and they offered SO MUCH relief. I went to Biofeet here in town to be fitted and ended up buying some Sigvaris medical grade support hose at a hefty price point. But oh my word they were invaluable. There was a huge difference between the days I wore them and the days I didn't. I actually wore my fist pair into the ground and bought a second pair for the last few weeks. So worth it for the support they gave my legs and belly. Not sure how I'd feel about them if I was hugely pregnant in the middle of the summer, though...

Larabars and KIND bars- Both have simple ingredients, are gluten free, and don't make a lot of crumbs! Such a great snack when I was on the go and started to feel lightheaded. Also, I ate a chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar before our 12 week sono and baby was bouncing off the walls. Safe to say he loves them too!

Pampers' Hello baby app- This app offers highlights every week of pregnancy, but even more fun is that if you double click on the image, it goes to a life-sized image of your baby at that gestational age! So fun, but I wish we'd had an iPad to view it on. Baby outgrew the iPhone pretty quickly :-)

Full Term app- I'm sure there are lots of contraction timers out there, but this one couldn't have been easier. You just push "start" at the beginning of a contraction and "end" when it's over. The app calculates frequency and duration, maps out averages for you, and more. It also has a cheat sheet for the different stages of labor which is nice.

POSTPARTUM

Body pillow-same pillow, different use. It has been so helpful for breastfeeding support since it's wider and also unstructured. I basically wrap it around myself and tuck it into the side of the chair when I feed the baby.

Larabars and KIND bars- Another repeat. So easy to snack on during middle of the night feedings.

Ice packs- Also see if your nurse will send you home with ice pads!

Lanolin- I've only tried two brands, but I like the Medela one the best. It seems to go on easier.

Breast pump-  I learned this the hard way: even if you don't think you'll use it right away, or don't plan on using it at all, order it before your due date! Most insurance companies provide some sort of benefit for breastpumps now, and you can usually order them a month before your due date. Do it! (P.S. My lactation consultant friends say that the Medela Pump and Style or Ameda Purely Yours pumps are the best for home use.)

Nursing tank tops from Target- Not nearly supportive enough for me to wear out and about, but awesome for wearing to bed and around the house. I actually even wore this and a loose black skirt for my postpartum hospital stay. I'd love to have some nicer, more structured nursing tanks but for now, these are the ones in our budget. (But if money wasn't an issue I'd stock up on these and these).

Maxi skirts- Because nothing else fits and my cute maternity dresses just don't look right on my deflated belly

NEWBORN

Summer SwaddlePod- OMG this is too cute. And Noah LOOOVES it! He totally knows that when we zip him up in it, it's time for bed.

Moby wrap- I'd used this with a baby in the NICU and fell in love. I know there are a ton of wrap and carrier options out there, but this works for us in the newborn stage. I like having him right against me and he gets to feel like he's being held while I have the use of a hand or two.

Aden + Anais blankets- My grandma and one of my friends also made some big, soft, swaddle blankets. But when it comes to store-bought ones, the Aden + Anais ones have been the best. They're actually big enough to keep him swaddled! (Although after he got stronger around two weeks, we moved to the SwaddlePod at night and just use the blankets during the day.)

Boon grass- Ross is obsessed with this company and their "grass" is a fun and functional drying rack that doesn't look totally utilitarian.

A nice camera- We totally splurged on this... but if you're going to take the plunge, what better time? Can't wait til our newborn photographer has her next camera class so I can learn how to use ours better.





Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lactation Cookies

Now before you get grossed out, let me explain. These are basically just glorified oatmeal cookies, and they're pretty tasty. I've made them for friends in the past, and when we got home from the hospital a few weeks ago, it was so cute when Ross said, "hey, now you can make those cookies for us!" So I did. Repeatedly.

The reason behind the name is that oatmeal, flax seed, and Brewer's Yeast have all been touted as galactogogues, meaning that they can help increase milk supply. I think technically the evidence-based verdict is still out, but many moms swear by these ingredients. Even if it's a myth, those are all also healthy ingredients and I'm pretty darn hungry right now. If nothing else, this is a good excuse to eat cookies in the middle of the night!

I based my recipe off of this one, but of course I lightened it up a bit and made it gluten-free as well. We love them!

Gluten-Free Lactation Cookies
(makes about 2 dozen, depending on how much dough you eat first!)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbs water
2 Tbs ground flax seed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup rice flour (brown or white will work)
1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
2 cups gluten-free oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbs nutritional yeast (because Bewer's Yeast isn't gluten free)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter, sugar, water, flax, eggs, and vanilla with a beater. Add rice flour, almond flour, baking soda, salt, and yeast and mix well. Stir in the oats and the chocolate chips and roll into Tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Place on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Boy Meets World

I shared most of our pre-labor story during the 39 week update, but the rest of the narrative feels too private to share online. I will say, though, that the day Noah was born will always be one of the best days of my life.

We got admitted to Labor and Delivery around noon and had a baby in our arms 4 hours later. I simply could not have asked for a better delivery and I'm incredibly thankful for and humbled by it. It went far better than I could ever have imagined and it was nothing like I thought it would be. It's hard to even put feelings into words at this point, suffice to say I deserve no credit.

God granted me the incredible gift of focus and living in the moment, starting that Tuesday night. The 4 hours we spent in L and D went by in the blink of an eye. I was so present for each moment, albeit pretty tired and a little out of it by the time our little man showed up. I will always be grateful for that gift of presence.

I worried a lot during pregnancy about things like, "What if I die during labor? What would Ross do? What if the baby gets stuck or has a knot in his cord or has the cord wrapped around his neck or is stillborn or...?" All those absolutely terrifying thoughts were a million miles away when I actually went into labor and I honesty didn't remember those fears until weeks later, and then they were accompanied by nothing but relief and gratitude. The gift of "just being in it" was one of the best parts of Noah's birth day and the following days. My mind was, for once, blissfully clear and simply focused on the task at hand.

Some thoughts on labor in those last stages:

-I love my husband. Neither of us was sure how he was going to handle the hospital and potential blood and guts, but he was phenomenal. I was really bummed that house renovations took up a lot of what would've been baby preparation time. I wanted to read books and attend classes with Ross this past spring and it just didn't happen. He finally got with the program when our doula came over, which I'm so grateful for. Even though we didn't prepare for months and months, Ross was there for the whole labor, super involved, and so supportive. I couldn't have done it without him!

-WOW now I understand people who say water is nature's epidural. I didn't realize how tense I was until I got into the tub in L and D. I don't think I necessarily would've wanted to have a water birth (not that you're allowed to in the hospital anyway) but I absolutely loved being able to labor in the tub for a bit. I think it really made all the difference in my pain and endurance levels and gave me a bit of a break since I could truly relax between contractions. I'm bummed I wasn't able to get in the tub a second time since things were moving too quickly (at my hospital, you had to be put on the fetal monitor for 20 minutes out of every hour, which meant getting out of the tub). I'm very glad I didn't take a bath at home, because it would've been really hard to get me out and drag me to the hospital after experiencing that relief.

-Our doula was priceless. She was there full of suggestions when the baby flipped breech at 34 weeks. She was flexible with childbirth classes and came to our house to teach us (a total luxury given the complete craziness of our lives at the time). She kept in touch with me when labor started and was full of encouragement. She was present and active for every minute of my time in labor and delivery. She helped Ross stay informed and involved (I think he appreciated her even more than I did) and she really helped me focus toward the end when I had a few moments of panic.

-Our Midwife was wonderful. Seriously, so knowledgeable and calm and encouraging. I felt completely SAFE in her hands and if Ross and I can replicate the dream team of our Midwife and our doula for our next child, we absolutely will.

-I don't feel any tougher for having gone through labor and delivery without an epidural or pain medication. I do feel incredibly grateful and also in awe of my body. Delivery is an absolute symphony and childbirth is a miracle. I don't take that for granted for a minute.

-I can't say enough how much of a difference it made to get a break between contractions. Labor wasn't one long continuous pain for hours on end! Also, the fact that labor pain was productive and serving a purpose, made it far different than any other pain I've experienced. I didn't really know what to expect going into labor, except for what I'd seen and heard at work. Being on the other end of it was not like I expected. They say labor intensifies your natural inclinations and for some peoples, that's LOUD! For me it was quiet and more meditative and drawn in.

-It was hard to comprehend that Noah was ours at first. Completely unbelievable. I just stared and him and kept saying, "he's so big!" Which I think was simply my way of saying, "he's so REAL. He's HERE. He's a PERSON!" He's the wiggle worm who was moving and growing in there the whole time. That blows my mind.

-Squishy newborn cheeks are the best.

-We had some extra cake left over from my family baby shower and my mom froze it and then brought it to the hospital after Noah was born. It was really fun to celebrate his birth day that way!

All in all, words can't express how special those first few days were. I'm so grateful I'm able to experience this all!

Friday, June 6, 2014

39 Weeks: The End, and the Beginning

(This post was actually being written over month late, and then post-dated... oops)

Where to begin? I guess we left off with me feeling cautiously optimistic that maybe we'd make it to our due date and actually have time to get stuff done and take a breather before beginning the next chapter of our lives.

This week started with my brother's wedding on Saturday. All along everyone gave me a hard time about going into labor at the rehearsal dinner, and I'm happy to report the weekend went off without a hitch. In hindsight, we should've gone to bed earlier Friday and Saturday, but when your family is partying, you don't want to be the spoilsport! Also, the wedding was actually really fun and we're so happy for Tommy and Sarah!

So we were super tired on Sunday, but that's to be expected after several long days and late nights. That evening, our doula came over for the last bit of our childbirth class. When she left, I said, "I'm so not ready to be done being pregnant. I haven't hit the miserable point yet. I really love it and I'm going to miss it!" She laughed and said, "that's exactly why you're not even on my labor radar yet!"

I had a ton of hip pain Sunday night and didn't sleep well at all, but I chalked it up to being on my feet all day Saturday. The hip and back pain continued into Monday, which I had planned to be a really productive day but I think making one freezer meal and running a few errands totally wore me out and I ended up taking an afternoon nap on the couch before meeting Ross at our hospital for a tour of Labor and Delivery (procrastinate much?!).

So... Saturday wedding. Sunday childbirth class. Monday hospital tour. Tuesday... I went into labor.

I say that in hindsight, of course, because I was totally in denial at the time. I started having painful contractions Tuesday morning at work. I'd had regular Braxton-Hicks contractions for months, so I wasn't really concerned at first. But these contractions continued to be just painful enough to make me take notice. It was really the perfect day to go into labor (besides, you know, being a good week or so earlier than I was mentally prepared for): I was at work in the NICU, so I had something to occupy myself with, but I had a really easy assignment meaning I got to sit when I needed to sit, and drink lots (and lots) of water.

[As a funny aside, one of my patients was going home, and the baby had a due date just one or two days off from mine. He was 7 1/2 lbs and seemed huge to me. When his mom found out that my own delivery was imminent, she said, "as for a spinal the minute you get to the hospital. This sh*t is going to hurt!" Uhhh...How do you even respond to that?! ]

Throughout the day, the contractions continued to be frequent enough and "painful" enough that I timed them every few hours. (I put painful in quotation marks, perhaps because I now know how much more painful they were going to get, but also because they weren't really painful enough for me to stop what I was doing when it happened... just enough to make me take notice and take a deep breath). Anyway, they were 8-18 minutes apart all day.

I gave my doula a heads-up, but I really didn't think much of it. My Braxton Hicks always acted up during 12-hour shifts, so I figured this was going to be the same kind of thing... practice contractions, doing some of the work of labor (work that I wouldn't have to do later on in the hospital, as my doula always said) but not the real deal yet. I had big plans to go home, take some Benadryl, and go to bed.

Which is more or less what I did, after making a labor playlist and throwing some stuff into a hospital bag (maybe I knew something was really happening after all?). I went to bed around 11pm or so, only to wake up at 2am. There was a HUGE storm that night and I listened to the thunder and laid in bed for a few contractions before waking Ross up to time them. Then I proceeded to have a few painful hours of contractions lasting 1-2 minutes, and coming 5-6 minutes apart. I was really able to breathe through them, but they were significantly more painful compared to the ones I'd had all day. But again, it was a different kind of pain than I'd ever experienced. Maybe because it was productive pain instead of needless pain? I felt normal between the contractions throughout all of labor, which was an immense relief to me. The pain isn't continuous! It can and will end! Although as I laid there that night, I noticed my shoulders were starting to hurt from being clenched up and my abs were sore like I'd been doing situps.

I was planning to head to the hospital when either my water broke, or when contractions were one minute long and 4 minutes apart for one hour. Since neither of those was true, I laid there through the contractions, taking slow deep breaths. In hindsight maybe this is when a typical labor would go to the hospital. But whether it was my fatigue after the last few days, the Benadryl, or my straight up denial, I didn't even consider leaving the house yet. After an hour or two of those painful contractions, I got up and had Ross finish packing our hospital bags (again... procrastinate much?!)

Ross had actually planned to take Wednesday off to finish a few things around the house, put the crib together, unpack a few boxes... you know, important things. He said at this point, though, that if he didn't have the day off already he would've called in then. I was moving out of my denial a bit, but still thinking we had a ways to go. Yet I was literally praying, "God, make these contractions stop. Give us a few more days. I'm not ready!"

I managed to get up, make a smoothie, take a long hot shower and take a second Benadryl (I'd taken one capsule before bed earlier in the evening). By that point, I was comfortable enough to go back to bed, although it was a weird sleep. I feel like I slept seamlessly through the contractions, but was still coherent enough to feel each one before drifting off again. I woke up around 9am and the contractions were still just as painful, but had spaced out to 8-10 minutes apart.

I walked to the garden in our backyard with Ross to get some kale to eat with my eggs for breakfast, and the uneven ground was incredibly painful to walk on and basically gave me constant contractions as I walked out and back. I remember saying to Ross, "this is so painful! How on earth do people go on long walks in early labor?!" (Spoiler alert, I was not in early labor anymore!)

Around 10am I decided to call my Midwife's office just to be sure my water hadn't broken or anything (I always swore I'd never be one of those people who "wasn't sure" if her water was broken or not. Joke's on me!) The nurse called back and told me to come on in to be checked. I hemmed and hawed for a bit. Considered painting the kitchen cabinets that really needed painting. Considered baking brownies because I wanted to bring them to the hospital. Finally decided I should probably be seen before the office staff went to lunch, so we left the house around 11:15am.

I was really afraid they'd say I was crazy and send me home, but we also brought everything we'd need to stay and I think I knew deep down that we were leaving the house for good. But again, I was in denial. It was easier to say, "I'll bake the brownies when we get home later!" than to say, "the next time I walk through that door I will have a baby and life will never be the same again."

We got to the office around 11:45am and the elevators were being slow, so I said, "let's just take the stairs!" Up 4 flights. I had one or two contractions on that hike. I think that kicked things into gear again and from that moment on, my contractions started getting closer together. When we got to the office, they took me back pretty quickly. I went to sit on the exam table, but had a contraction again and stood up to bend over the table. (Ever since the end of my shift the day before, it hurt to sit during a contraction). Of course, that's when my Midwife walked in and I think she went into labor mode right then and there. She said, "oh, you didn't tell me you were having labor contractions!" I said, "I wasn't sure if I was!" She was like, "Um yeah those are not your Braxton-Hicks anymore."

She checked me and said, "well, your water's not broken, but you're 6cm dilated, 100% effaced, baby's at zero station, and we're going to direct admit you to labor and delivery right now!" All I hears was, "6cm... direct admission..." I started tearing up and it was all I could do not to sob. It was starting. We were going to meet our baby THAT DAY! I was shocked, elated, and... mostly shocked. Also relieved that the pain had been productive and I was over halfway there!!! Ross started tearing up, too, and I think we were both just completely in awe. This was real. It was really happening!

When Ross pulled my phone out to tell my parents we were being admitted, he noticed a missed call from our doula around 11:30am. He called her back to update her and she said she was calling to tell us that if we hadn't been checked yet, we should think about going in. She knows me so well. She said when I rated my overnight contractions at a 7 out of 10 on the pain scale, she knew it was the real deal. I just couldn't stop apologizing because all along, she'd said "don't be the hero. I don't want my first update to be your calling from the hospital." Ooops! But I legitimately didn't think I was in real labor yet until my Midwife said those words.

Then the nurse brought a wheelchair over to take us to L and D. Of course, I took one look at it and in my split second of hesitation, the Midwife said, "It's going to hurt to sit isn't it? You can walk if you'd rather." So we walked very slowly across to the hospital and I had very frequent contractions the whole way there. I'm glad we left the house when we did, because things had accelerated rapidly in that hour.

We were admitted Wednesday afternoon and had a baby four hours later. One of the best days of my life thus far! And that's the story of my 39th week of pregnancy... the day we would've been celebrating turning 39 weeks, we left the hospital with a baby instead. The end of this pregnancy, but a whole new beginning.