Mama of two...3 months in

So how is it going being a mom of two? The question I am most often asked these days. It is truly hard to believe I've been at this for 12 whole weeks now. 3 months. A quarter of a year. Yikes. It truly feels like we got home from the hospital yesterday, some days. Transition is a tricky thing. I try my best to prepare for it, research it, talk about it, obsess about it - what will the other side look and feel like. But no matter what you anticipate, transition takes on a life of its own in the end. Which is a scary thing sometimes. And sometimes is a good thing - it can be far greater than you could have imagined.

the real deal after a long day - messy living room, dirty hair, no makeup, babies in pj's by 6pm.

the real deal after a long day - messy living room, dirty hair, no makeup, babies in pj's by 6pm.

The last three months have been all those things. Let's just say it's been scary and sad and wonderful and happy and allllllll of the feelings. Some of the things I anticipated happened - my heart grew the moment Owen was born bigger than I could have imagined. My love for both my babies is out of this world huge. I anticipated being tired (duh, understatement of the year), I anticipated being challenged by taking care of two little people simultaneously (sometimes easier than I imagined, sometimes infinitely harder in some moments), and I anticipated feeling guilty not having all my time and attention devoted to Reese (aka all she has known her whole life until now).

After Owen was born, I knew it would be hard to return to work full-time, even after taking maternity leave. Before, Reese had been attending daycare three days a week, and even that was daunting to afford. It was told to me days before heading out on maternity leave that my flexible office days would be ending, and I was expected to return to the office five full days a week. I knew that putting both of the kids in daycare, full-time, five days a week, wasn't going to be financially feasible. So, it was decided that I would stay home with our babies for a year, and return to work next fall. By then, Reese would be four and could enroll in a pre-K program which would hopefully be more affordable, and Owen would be almost 18 months old, which would mean avoiding ultra-expensive infant daycare during his first year.

I knew staying home would leave me with mixed emotions. And it definitely has. I knew I would be obviously stressed about making our lives work on one income. I worry about what I will find for work a year from now, and that taking a pause from my career path in the nonprofit sector might be completely detrimental to my future prospects. And feel a mix of envy and pride for my friends who are killing it in their careers and going after what they want with a singular focus. I feel so far from that at this moment.

a day I managed to wash and dry my hair...

a day I managed to wash and dry my hair...

I knew I would love being home with our babies and I do feel incredibly fortunate and blessed to be able to be here with them during Owen's first year of life, and at a time when Reese really needs us. It seems the end of the two's and the start of the three's is especially challenging for us. I also knew some days I would feel like I'm going crazy, and that is definitely the truth. On tough days, I have fleeting moments of regret, and feel totally isolated. Feel like I'm not doing enough and I can't keep it together. And the days activities are monotonous, mindless and yet overwhelming - nursing a million times, changing diapers, being spit up on 12 times a day, preparing food and snacks, cleaning up all the food and snacks, washing dishes, infinite loads of laundry, finding lost toys, calming tantrums, etc etc.

This is not complaining, again, I am sooooo super grateful to have the chance to be home with Reese and O. But it really is a dual-sided thing. Nothing is easy. Staying home is hard. Working and putting kids in childcare is hard. There truly isn't a perfect choice. Everyone's situation, kids and lives are different, but I'm sure as mothers we all share many of the same feelings. 

twelve weeks!

twelve weeks!

However, I think I do know a bit about transitions from doing this motherhood gig for a few years now. It takes a while to find your groove. I know I will find mine again, but it will look and feel totally different from before. I know there will be days where it feels easy and everyone is happy, and on those days I am thankful and grateful and want to bottle the feeling and keep it for later. And on the days it feels hard, I drink more coffee, try to scale back expectations for the day and for everyone, leave the laundry on the floor, and remind myself to take it hour by hour, minute by minute sometimes. To take a deep breath before reacting (but sometimes I forget to do that), and give a hug instead of lashing out. On the days that last forever, I try to remind myself that this doesn't last. Babies aren't babies forever. The first twelve months go by so fast. I really am trying to soak in Owen's littleness in the calm, quiet moments. Take a million pictures on my phone. Squeeze him into the 0-3 month size onesie a few more times. I don't want to wish this away, even when it's hard. Because I know at the end of my life, I won't regret spending this time with our babies while they were babies. I won't wish I spent more time at a job, at a desk, at a screen, even if it means less money for now.

So how is it going, being a mom of two? I love it. 

Owen's Birth Story - Part II

Continued from Part I last week...

So, as the contractions slowed, Nick tried to take my mind off of everything by turning the subject to food...and the idea that our friend who owns a restaurant nearby the hospital could perhaps bring us take out later that night. So we joked with our favorite nurse about checking out the menu and letting us know what she wanted to order. I was really looking forward to some good/non-hospital food, thinking we would be in the labor room for the rest of the night, when suddenly lots of alarms and buzzers started going off and everyone got quiet and focused. I went into total panic at this point. I had no idea why, or what was going on. Time slowed and became fragmented. Suddenly there were a lot more people in the room. Suddenly I had an oxygen mask shoved on my face. Suddenly my doctor was in the room. I remember my sweet nurse brushing the hair off my forehead and telling me everything was going to be ok, and that everyone who needed to be in the room to get our baby safely out was here. I remember when she said that I nodded in understanding but started to cry hysterically. They said the baby's heart rate was decelerating and that I need to start pushing. By that point it was go time.

I don't remember a lot clearly beyond this and what happened next. I remember things calming down, and taking huge deep breaths to try and regulate my oxygen levels. I remember the nurse asking my doctor if Nick could catch the baby. I remember pushing and feeling like my head was going to pop off and trying so hard to get the baby out fast. I remember the feeling of the top of a soft velvet baby head. And remember Nick, at the foot of the bed, holding our new crying babe and looking down, looking at me, and looking down again, in utter shock and disbelief as he said - "it's a boy!" It felt like time truly stopped in that moment, and I'll never forget it. It felt frozen in time. I was so impatient and finally yelled - "let me see the baby!" and remember this tiny peanut curled up crying on my chest. Pure bliss. Our baby boy Owen had arrived, at 10:10 pm, six hours after my water broke.

owen brand new - this little joy
owen - this little joy

Our little peanut got to hang out on my chest for a while before they cut the cord and weighed him. He was so calm and alert right away, and we just got to gaze at each other and I couldn't stop kissing his fuzzy little face.

owen on the scale - this little joy

Seven pounds, two ounces! Tiny man compared to his big sis! Did not enjoy getting unwrapped for his weigh in.

owen_daddy.jpg

Wrapped back up and hanging out with daddy.

first picture with mom and dad - this little joy

First picture with mom and dad. Just a few minutes old!

I was able to score a chicken caesar salad (only gluten free option I could figure off the limited late night menu) and wolfed it down in record time. Along with a little mini Haagen-Daaz. After we were moved to our room to recover, and Nick waited to help the nurses give Owen his first bath. By this time it was probably midnight and I was exhausted. Nick left the hospital around 1:00 am to head home and relieve our neighbors who took over watching Reese and put her to bed after Allyson left. Reese did awesome that night, but apparently woke up at 6:00 am very concerned and looking for me. Nick said he freaked out and jumped out of bed when he heard the front door open. It was Reese, going out to the front porch "to look for mommy" in tears. I heard that story and burst into tears myself. It just made me realize things will never be like before, just me and her.

But now...our family is complete and it's the best feeling.

Reese meets Owen - this little joy

Reese meeting Owen for the first time. She was so gentle and quiet, just petting his little head. She instantly seemed like such a big girl and such a big sister. She just kept saying - look Mom he is so tiny!!

happy sister - this little joy

And this picture just kills me. Her sweet smile, just pure joy. I can't even.

SO....that is our long story of how Owen William came into the world. I am so grateful for another fast and relatively easy delivery, and so thankful for the amazing nurses at Rose Medical Center who cared for us. And that is how this birth story ends, and our story as a family of four begins!

Owen's Birth Story - Part I

When I was nearing the end of pregnancy, I started to get really anxious about when and where I would go into labor. And obsessed about where Reese would be - would she be at school? Would it be the middle of the night? It was a factor I obviously didn't have to worry about the first time around and it was making me super anxious. I didn't want to have to leave her in a dramatic way, or have her see me in pain, or be sad.  When I went into labor with Reese, it all went really fast, and by the time we made it to the hospital, I was already 8 centimeters dilated and out of my mind with labor shakes and couldn't walk or speak a coherent sentence. I obviously wanted to get to the hospital a little sooner this time around. All that said, I started to read birth stories like crazy at the end, in hopes that it would mentally prepare me in some way for the the infinite and totally unpredictable labor scenarios. Of course, nothing can prepare you. But, before the sleepless nights rob me of more brain cells, here is Owen's birth story:

Friday, May 13th started just like any other Friday. I was already past 40 weeks and past our "due date" so had been feeling really anxious and antsy all week. I had an induction scheduled for the following Wednesday, so was really freaked out that it might come to that. I was getting annoyed with myself and my body too...Reese had arrived almost two weeks early, so I truly thought baby #2 would do the same, and definitely expected to be holding him or her by the due date. But the last few days of my pregnancy I felt stalled - my near constant Braxton-Hicks contractions became less frequent, and I even tried acupuncture to "induce labor" which was one of the most unexpectedly intense things ever! And my feet were starting to get next level puffy.

puffy feet at 40 weeks - this little joy

But despite all the uncertainty and anxiety, I didn't have a lot of time to sit around a dwell on it with Reese running all over the house and needing me. So that Friday we had a normal morning, and decided to head to the park where Nick was actually able to meet us during an unexpected break over lunchtime. We had a great time, and I was still lifting her to put her in the swing and up the ladders, etc. despite my huge belly. In hindsight now, even though it was something so normal and routine for us to go to the park, I realize that was our last outing together as a family of three. I'm happy we had that little bit of time all together that day.

last park date before O - this little joy

After, Nick returned to work and Reese and I returned home for lunch and her nap time. After she woke up from nap around 3:00, I was feeling too tired to do much, so suggested we watch a movie, much to Reese's delight. We watched Peter Pan, which we had just rented from the library. Not having watched the movie myself since I was little, I remember getting teary when I heard Wendy sing the song about mothers to the lost boys. And then a few minutes later, I felt a random BH contraction out of no where and didn't think much of it...until it didn't end. I remember thinking - wow this contraction is lasting much longer than normal - and felt the pressure increasing until POP! My water broke. I was sitting on our brand new couch next to Reese. I immediately jumped up and ran to the bathroom. Reese was totally intrigued as to why I jumped up so fast and was acting so funny, and followed me to the toilet. I explained simply in the moment that "Mommy had an accident" as I was dealing with the aftermath of all the fluid. And just like that my labor started.

By some chance, not even a minute later, Nick walked through the door after getting done with work slightly early. I suspect he knew immediately that I was in labor since I was yelling his name from the bathroom when I heard him walk in. When I was able to get up after a few minutes, clean up and put on some new leggings, I immediately went into action. I called the OB on call since it was now after 5:00, and put in a message that my water broke and I would be headed in to the hospital soon. I made sure Reese was still content watching the movie, and then I immediately ran upstairs to finish the cleaning I had been procrastinating all day. Yup, that's me. In between contractions (which were probably 5-7 minutes apart at that point) I was vacuuming the entire upstairs floor of our house and putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Even though I knew I was being totally insane, I just had to do it. Nick evan asked in the midst of my crazy cleaning session "umm, are you sure you should be doing that now?" knowing full well that his protest wouldn't stop me. 

After being satisfied by my cleaning efforts, I hopped in the shower, because of course I needed to wash and dry my hair before going to the hospital. #priorities. In between contractions, I flipped upside down to dry my hair and find something clean to wear to the hospital. Meanwhile, Nick was upstairs on the phone, calling all our friends trying to figure out what to do with Reese. Our "plan" to have our neighbors watch her fell through given the time of the day (5pm on a Friday) and we realized they would not be home for at least 2 hours. Suddenly my phone rang, and it was on of my best friends calling to say hi on her way home from work. I frantically picked up and started the conversation with "hi, um so my water just broke, what are you doing?" She immediately said she would drive over to us, and arrived within 30 minutes. Reese was thrilled to see her and have her there to play, so hardly noticed us racing around, trying to get things in order and my hospital bag packed and in the car.

All in all, even though things were moving fast, I felt calm. Happy. Not super emotional. I thought I would leave the house sobbing, sad about leaving Reese, and emotional about labor and the impending changes to our family. And I thought Reese would be sobbing too. But none of that happened. Instead, I helped make her mac and cheese for dinner, and sat down next to her to tell her that the baby was going to come today and that I was going to see the doctor now with daddy. She smiled, gave me a hug, and then turned her attention back to showing Allyson her new princess movies.

Nick and I drove to the hospital and made good time. Rush hour was ending and the traffic wasn't too bad. I definitely was feeling all the contractions in the car and had to close my eyes and breathe through each one. Being constrained in the passenger seat by the seatbelt was making me crazy uncomfortable. Nick and I talked nervously and he tried to find funny songs on his IPod to distract me. It was a relief to get to the hospital and be able to get out of the car and walk to the emergency waiting area. In between contractions I still felt good, and was able to talk and laugh. We didn't have to wait long until they brought us up to Labor and Delivery, and I was still able to walk up on my own - no dramatic wheelchair entrance this time!

The nurse met us at the entrance of L&D, and we followed her down the long hall to our room. And amazingly it was the same room where I had delivered Reese! I was so excited to be back in the same room. It felt like a good omen.

I got dressed in the lovely hospital gown, got into bed so the could check out how I was progressing and hook up the fetal monitor. I was already at 5cm, so already half way there and we had just arrived! I was so relieved. I was worried that since I arrived last time at 8cm with Reese, this time would go horribly wrong and they were going to tell me I wasn't even in labor.

in labor with baby O - this little joy

Immediately after, the nurses ask me about me pain management plan and if I wanted an epidural or not. I had one before, at the very end of my labor with Reese, and then turned it off when it was time to push, and that had worked out amazingly well. So, I thought why not? The nurses were laughing saying I was doing well through each contraction they saw on the screen, so I could totally try to go without one this time. I considered it for a second, but then I decided I had nothing to prove. Nothing to prove to anyone. I was going to have this baby soon and if the epidural helped my progress then so be it.

But soon after my contractions started to slow and I started to panic. I was convinced that the epidural was slowing my labor and I started to tell Nick I was regretting it. I envisioned the nurses coming back to tell me they were going to hook me up to Pitocin and I was going to flip out, thinking it was the beginning of the cascade of interventions I had read about...

To be continued, next time!