A May Update

+ A month into this parents-of-three thing and we are surviving. Barely. Tim is still on paternity leave for one more week and after that just start saying all of the prayers for my sanity.

+ We had to call poison control for the first time ever yesterday because Isabelle snuck into the kitchen and got her hands on some elderberry gummies. 28 of them. *eye roll* (We weren’t concerned but we still called her pediatrician and they recommended calling poison control to ask about the amount of zinc she consumed. They said it was fine, and she didn’t have any side effects at all except a very huge sugar rush.)

+ Clara has a baby book that is complete except for pictures I keep meaning to put in, Isabelle has one but it isn’t filled out, and I’m trying to create one for Phoebe with this app. (There’s a sale this weekend if you decide you want to try it!) At this rate hers will probably be finished first – and most accurately!

+ I love these nail polish remover pads. I don’t know why, but these take off my nail polish much easier than other brands I’ve tried.

+ The girls had a May Day party at school and it was the sweetest thing. We’re enjoying such glorious weather in the PNW lately… it’s going to be 80 degrees today and I am HERE FOR IT.

+ Phoebe sleeps almost all day and almost all night… just waking up a time or two to eat. A few times she has slept through the entire night and I woke up in a panic when I realized sunlight was streaming through the windows and I hadn’t woken up that night! I know that these sleep patterns will change but for now I am enjoying it immensely.

+ My friends celebrated Phoebe (and me) at the sweetest little sip n’ see last weekend! We drank mimosas and ate brunch and I opened up presents from generous friends. Phoebe slept through the entire thing, so people were able to hold a sleepy, cuddly newborn (everyone’s fav kind!)… it made my heart so happy to have her welcomed into our friend group!

+ I watched three seasons of Downton Abbey and then when a certain something happened I decided to stop watching for a while. Sigh. So instead of watching a show I read this book which I highly recommend if you like World War II historical fiction, but maybe not if you have whacky postpartum hormones. Certain parts of if were difficult for me to get through without crying all of the tears.

We’ve had a busy start to May and I can’t believe Phoebe has been in our family for over a month! Now I’m off to shop some of J Crew Factory‘s 50% off sale so that I can find some nursing-friendly dresses… wish me luck!

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Postpartum advice for the first 21 days

Spend 7 days in bed.

Spend 7 days on bed.

Spend 7 days near bed.

This is advice I most definitely did not follow after the births of my first two daughters, but this time around I took it to heart!

I first heard these wise words years ago from a more experienced mom (who was then pregnant her third darling baby!) friend when we were discussing all of the things we wish we could say to newly expecting moms but really can’t. And some of the advice that we wish we had heard. One of the things we focused on was how society, family, and friends seem to expect new moms to keep going at their ‘normal’ pace, even though being a new mom is so overwhelming that it’s impossible to continue on with life like that.

She shared this postpartum advice for the first 21 days, (the “21 day ‘rule”), which was passed along from another mom. She followed when her babies were newly home for the hospital.

She spends 7 days in bed. Then 7 days on bed. Then 7 days near bed.

Obligations, social plans, and errands can (and will) wait. Those first few weeks as a new mom should be spent resting and relaxing and nursing and snuggling and recovering with a newborn.

Postpartum advice for the first 21 days

I recently read a (cook)book titled “The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother” and it talks a lot about how in many cultures, a mom is only expected to rest for the first month, if not longer, and her community surrounds her to make sure that can happen. I don’t need to tell you that in the USA we don’t have that structure in place for new families and new moms. Communities are spread out, fathers (generally) aren’t encouraged to take paternity leave, and sometimes moms are ‘forced’ to go back to work very soon after having a baby. But, I believe that most of us can create a system in which we snuggle our babies more and do less unnecessary stuff the first month.

It’s so much easier said than done, though.

After the birth of Clara (my almost-five year old!) I was convinced that having a baby should not and would not slow me down, so I kept up with my normal life pace to a certain extent. Tim got a month of paternity leave, so we hung around and watched a lot of TV (Clara was the world’s easiest baby and slept all month), but also entertained a lot guests, stayed relatively active, maintained a social life of some sort, etc.

After Isabelle was born, I was even more determined to keep up with life. With an almost-two-year old toddler also at home, we got out as much as possible. We entertained guests, went to playgrounds, walked to coffee shops, kept up with social plans… I don’t remember slowing down at all, really. (Although the first week or two I was in bed with spinal headaches, so that was some forced recovery. Even then, I still attempted to clean the house and do too many things.)

This time, I did it differently.

+ I recognized that I had major surgery (again!) and allowed myself to heal from that with a lot of sitting around. C-section recoveries are hard.

+ I realized that just because I mentally felt great and energized some days, physically I got tired if I took on too many things, so I said no to some things that seemed like they’d be too much.

+ I snuggled my very-sleepy newborn as much as humanly possible because I now know it really, really doesn’t last.

+ I delegated cooking, laundry, cleaning, toddler care, basically everything I could to my very-capable husband (who normally does a lot of this stuff anyways, but is now on paternity leave and can do even more! Yay!)

+ I spread out visitors and social plans so I only had one thing to do per day, if even! This allowed me to enjoy visits more and to relax in between plans.

+ I washed my face every day and sometimes even put on ‘real’ clothes so I felt good (mentally, emotionally, and physically).

+ I reminded myself that my only job was (and is) to heal my body and feed my baby. That’s it. Like 100% it. Everything else can be delegated or put on hold for the time being.

I am now almost a month postpartum and I’ll admit that the first 7 days I didn’t spend in bed, but I did spend on the couch, for the most part! (Where I spent almost all pregnancy, if we’re being honest!) The next seven days I spent the same way, but I took on a few additional tasks, like emptying the dishwasher, watching the girls so Tim can do other things… and I even changed a diaper or two, which I had managed to avoid the whole first week! Also during the second week we did do Easter activities with our church and attended our small group. During the third week we got outside a bit and I started moving around a lot more. We also went to MOPS and a social outing at a salon where I got a manicure while wearing Phoebe in a sling. So I guess I wasn’t really ‘near’ bed in some cases, but I tried!

Now I’m finally going a bit stir-crazy and (approaching the end of week 4!) am feeling more ready to enter into my normal life again, slowly

I am not, and never have been, great at relaxing, but I’m really proud about how I embraced a few weeks of rest in April! After a month with a newborn, I feel much better than I expected to feel!

If you need me, I’ll be on my couch snuggling the most squishy newborn for at least a little while longer.

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How we decided on Phoebe’s name (and other names we considered)

Thinking of a baby name was hard. Especially since we didn’t know whether we were expecting a boy or a girl, so we had to think of two different names for our little nugget. So much pressure!

How we came up with Phoebe's name (and other names we considered)

Five years ago, Clara’s name was somewhat easy to decide on. Tim and I came up with a list of about 16 names (for boys and then another 16 for girls) and we created a March Madness style bracket system to decide on our final name. (We are aware of how dorky we are!) We both had Charlotte and Clara in the finals, so from there it was easy to agree on Clara! I had always loved that name, ever since I was little and read the story, Heidi. Plus, I like names with some historical significance and Clara Barton is a strong female figure… it all seemed to fit together.

Our rules before selecting the name Clara were something like:
1) No names that could have obvious nicknames.
2) No names on the top 100 list.
3) Must be easy to spell / pronounce. **
4) Preferably a ‘vintage’ name that won’t go out of style forever.

** Tim does the ‘Starbucks test’ for our boy names, meaning he goes to Starbucks and uses a potential name at the register to see if the cashier understands it and can easily spell it.

By the time we found out I was pregnant with Isabelle just a little over a year after we had named Clara, it seemed impossible to pick another name I would like as much. We were all over the place trying to select a name that went with Clara but didn’t necessarily match Clara. I didn’t want to name the baby Charlotte because I had met so many baby ‘Charlies’ by then. Plus, I didn’t want to get locked into names that begin with C in case we had future children.

We clearly threw out all of the rules when picking the name Isabelle. I mean, the name has quite a few obvious nicknames (we call her Izzy sometimes, but we usually stick to Isabelle), it is definitely in the top 100 list (but barely), there are quite a few different spellings, and there are plenty of historical figures named Isabel / Isabelle, but none that really stick out to me. Shrug.

However, the name Isabelle was popular around the same time as Clara (in the 1920s) so I felt like the names went together.

Then came our third (surprise!) pregnancy and during my first trimester of constant nausea, all I had the energy to do was play on my phone. So it seemed most ‘productive’ to come up with a baby name list! Except for me and Tim couldn’t agree on one single name. We would either just say ‘no’ to the other person’s suggestions, or we would say ‘maybe’ which is almost worse than ‘no’, because our list kept getting longer and longer.

I decided to go back to my baby naming rules for Clara. With the new added rules of:

5) Cannot begin with a C or I.
6) Cannot end with an ‘a’.
7) Cannot have alternate endings. (I didn’t realize how confusing Clara and Isabelle would be fore people to remember / say. Almost everyone at some point calls them Claire & Isabella or Clara and Isabella or Claire and Isabelle… I can totally see how that can happen, so I didn’t want to add confusion by naming a baby Sophie/Sophia, Rosie/Rose/Rosa, etc.)

This narrowed down the list of names quite a bit! (Also, I’ve been told that I have way too many rules, but I don’t know how anyone narrows down their list otherwise!)

I looked at names that ended with an ‘ie’ sound that didn’t seem to already be a nickname, and that’s how I came across Phoebe! Of course originally I didn’t love the obvious ‘Friends’ association with the name, but then I realized that as Phoebe grows up, no one in her generation will have that name association, so it won’t matter. Plus, when I was contemplating whether Phoebe was a good name, we heard a church sermon about strong female Bible characters where Phoebe was mentioned, and I took that as a sign from God – so my decision was immediately solidified. (I don’t remember if Tim loved the name off the bat or not… I don’t think I cared because I had already decided it was going to be her name and I was tired of thinking about / discussing it!)

Other (girl) names we considered:

Alice
Elsie
Grace
Gwendolen
Jacqueline
Naomi
Rebecca
Violet
Vivienne

Boy names we considered:

Ansel
Asher
Finn (but I couldn’t think of a ‘full’ version of this name that I liked)
Holden
Sawyer
Silas
Simon
Soren
Theodore

I love thinking of baby names, I just don’t love deciding on one! One of my favorite baby name blogs is this one, and I love reading it to see what names people are considering. We didn’t discuss any baby names with anyone ahead of time, because I definitely didn’t want anyone else’s opinion to sway my own. However, this strategy has its own risks because without knowing what names you’re considering, people tend to give you opinions about random names and I always hope they don’t say something about a name we’re actually thinking about!

I think Phoebe is the type of name people either really like or really don’t like, but I really love it for our third baby girl! (And if you don’t, I don’t want to know!) 😉

Did you have a lot of rules for baby names?! What were they?

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Introducing… Phoebe Mae

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen that Phoebe Mae joined our family on April 8th! (#sorrynotsorry for the babyspam!)

Welcoming Phoebe Mae! Welcoming Phoebe Mae!

It’s been pure magic since then as we’ve left the hospital and come home. Now we’re adjusting to being a family of five!

(Of course this also involves a bit lot of recovery from my third c-section, but my system is full of oxytocin so I’m choosing to see this whole experience as magical.)

I still can’t believe I’m a mama to three daughters under five years old! When did I become such an adult?!

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I’m about to have a third c-section. Yikes.

I had my 39 week appointment with my OB this week, and the entire thing took about 5 minutes. I mean, that’s great because it means both baby and I are looking healthy, but it seems surreal because my experiences before have been so different.

This will be my first scheduled c-section. At this last appointment the OB checked to make sure the baby is head down [(s)he is] and that’s it (other than checking blood pressure and heartbeat)!  No checks for dilation, no talking about labor and delivery… it all seems easy-peasy. Weirdly so.

Except I’m already anxious because I truly don’t want a third c-section. I don’t want the surgery, I don’t want the recovery… I don’t want to deal with any of it. I’m disappointed that my body can’t just have a baby the ‘natural’ way.

Thoughts going into my third c-section.I still don’t know how Isabelle ever fit inside me. What a huge baby!

Clara was born via emergency c-section after I spiked a fever during labor. You can read the story here.  Basically, my water broke, 12 hours later I went into the hospital because contractions hadn’t started yet. They eventually started me on Pitocin (in the middle of the night), then hours after that I got an epidural, then hours after that I spiked a fever, her heartrate dropped, and they rushed me into the OR. She was born blue and not breathing and it took them a few minutes to revive her. I blacked out and don’t even remember meeting her for the first time, and I was throwing up too much to hold her (Tim informed me after the fact) so Tim did the initial skin-to-skin. Once I ‘regained consciousness’ (I remember regaining consciousness but I was never unconscious… it’s so weird), I demanded a Coke and a strawberry shake but I was not at all excited to meet Clara, my new baby. It was a weird experience and it still makes me sad to think about.

Isabelle was born via an elective c-section after about 36 hours of labor. You can read that story here(My favorite part is when I say that birth experience is why I don’t want to be pregnant again – HA! 3 years later, and here we are!) All I really remember about labor and delivery with Isabelle is that I had painful contractions forever that were totally ineffective, I eventually had back labor, the epidurals stopped working, I pushed for an hour once I got to 10cm, but then we decided to go for a C-section when she never dropped into my pelvis. The anesthesiologist couldn’t place a spinal block, so I had to go under general anesthesia for the birth. Which means, similarly to Clara’s delivery, I wasn’t really “present” for the birth of my baby and Tim was the one who did the initial skin-to-skin.

In both experiences, my babies never dropped into my pelvis, so there was no way they were coming out of my body that way. This is why once I got pregnant again, we decided I would have a scheduled c-section and not even try going through labor at all. Sigh. I have quite a few friends who say their scheduled c-sections were SO much better than they’re first c-section, but I remain unconvinced.

Yes, it will be nice to have family in town (we were able to plan in advance!) for the birth and for childcare for the girls. And I guess it will be nice to not have to feel labor pain… but honestly, I loved not knowing the date my babies would be born! I liked the suspense and feeling that they arrive when they’re ready. I hated having to pick a date this time around. I hate anticipating a surgery that I don’t want. I hate how my memories of the procedures in the past are overwhelmingly negative. I am praying that the anesthesiologist is able to place the spinal block without issue and that I have a great team of doctors who can try to ensure I don’t shake uncontrollably or throw up during the procedure (as I did with Clara). My main concern, of course, is that baby and I are both healthy… but I also want this to be a JOYFUL experience – somehow.

If I had it my way, I’d be planning a homebirth… not a highly medical procedure. I wish my body would just do this darn thing. But, I’m someone who apparently can make babies easily (such a blessing in itself!) but who cannot get them out!

So I have a lot of complex emotions going into these next few days. And it doesn’t help that every once in a while someone will ask if I’ve considered trying to VBAC. Again. And if I know the effects of c-sections on babies. Oh yes, I know. Plus, there are so many articles about hospitals in Seattle trying to lower the c-section rate and it all makes me feel like I’m CHOOSING this (and it’s the wrong decision) instead of needing this. But I know it’s necessary for us. I do. But then I think “maybe this baby will just magically drop in there (my pelvis)…” Although as of my last appointment the head is floating really high, so that seems unlikely.

I decided to wait until my due date for my scheduled c-section, because I didn’t see any medical reason to go ‘early’ at 39 weeks. I feel like my babies like to stay in my uterus as long as possible (41 + 3 and 41 + 5), so I’m not rushing this one along more than necessary. It’s not likely that I’ll go into labor before my due date, so my OB is comfortable with me waiting if that’s what I want to do.

Our countdown is getting shorter and shorter! I know once I meet our newest nugget this will all seem very worth it.

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