My Third C-Section (Phoebe’s Birth Story!)

It feels like Phoebe has been a part of our family forever, so it feels very belated to be writing her birth story… but in actuality, it’s been a short seven weeks! It took me a year to write out Isabelle’s birth story so I feel like I’m way ahead of the game this time. (#momwin!)

At the beginning of April I wrote about my anxiety going into my third c-section. Well, I’m happy to report that things went really, really well!

Phoebe's Birth Story (My Third C-section)

Starting at the beginning….

I expected to feel so much anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before, but I slept fine and woke up ready to go! Although, because I’m a huge procrastinator I was still trying to organize things around the house and pack a hospital bag a few minutes before heading to the hospital. This is not surprising, though. Anyways. We arrived at the hospital 2 hours before the c-section and checked in and chatted with the nurses forever, answering all of the bijillion questions they need to ask.

We also met with the anesthesiologist briefly so I could explain to him my last few L&D experiences (which he knew about from looking at my chart) so that we could all be on the same page that this delivery HAD to go better than all of that drama.

Finally, they gave me a gown and hair cover thingy (that’s the technical name, right?) and Tim a hazmat suit (Scrubs? Clothes coverer?) to wear into the OR and then we waited. And waited. And people came in every once in a while to tell us they were still waiting on someone or other who wasn’t where they were supposed to be. Tim and I made small talk and kind of scrolled our phones and at some point I tried to read from my Kindle, but it’s a little bit strange to wait around in anticipation of your baby being born! 30 minutes after our scheduled procedure time we finally walked into the OR. It felt a bit surreal to not be in labor yet still walking in to have the baby.

When I got into the room, a lot of people introduced themselves and the anesthesiologist placed the spinal block. In case you haven’t done this before, I basically sat on the operating table and they had me bend way over (maybe I held a pillow? Or maybe I’m just remember hunching over my bump?), placed a clear sheet of something that feels like saran wrap over my back, and put in the needle. I think they also give a local anesthesia? It just feels like pinching and a little burning – nothing too bad. My OB was there to rub my shoulders and tell me I was doing a great job, because Tim had to wait outside the OR until they were done giving me the anesthesia. Then as soon as the anesthesiologist was done they instructed me to quickly lay down on the table so that the drugs would distribute evenly to the lower half of my body.

Within a few moments my legs felt heavy, and then I couldn’t feel my lower half at all. They did some sort of ‘pinch test’ and declared I was ready to go! (They also commented on how well they could see the baby move and how they could tell which parts of her were squirming in there as I was lying on the table… it was surreal knowing she was going to be out in just a few minutes, and she was obliviously just hanging out in there!)

Everything happens so quickly with a c-section. They had the blue drape up just below my shoulders in no time and got to work. The anesthesiologist and Tim were both by my head so I could report any discomfort I was feeling. Tim was pretty nervous so he just held my hand. Actually maybe he rubbed my forehead? Who knows what he was doing. He was there, and that was enough! Husbands are kind of the most useless person in the room during the whole procedure, now that I think about it. I actually felt really comfortable during the actual surgery. Once I told the anesthesiologist I was nauseous, and he fixed it right away. Another time I told him my chest felt heavy, and he reassured me that was normal and it went away quickly, too.

Eventually (after about 15 minutes, probably), they announced the baby was coming out and they dropped the blue drape and a clear one remained up, so I could see the baby being lifted up. (This is part of the “gentle c-section” that my hospital offers) Tim announced she was a girl because 1) my eyes were filled with tears and 2) I didn’t have the best angle to see all of the parts. (He also said that he could see my abdomen being held open and some parts of my insides… Thankfully from a laying down position I couldn’t see any of that, because then I really would have been feeling nauseous!)

Phoebe was born covered in vernix (so she looked super white), and crying, which gave me a huge sense of relief. She was immediately put on my chest, and it was just the best. Although, when I say “chest” I really mean she was kind of put on my neck like a scarf. It’s really awkward. But at least I was able to touch her!

So that was that! They closed me up, I held my baby as best I could, Tim and I were super, super happy, and eventually they lifted me onto another table so they could wheel me into my room and everyone in the hallway could say “congrats!” which was super sweet.

And then the recovery began! More on that later, though.

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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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