Posted by Lisa On June 26th, 2015
What a busy second month of life you’ve had! You have grown like a champ (we unofficially weighed you at 15 pounds, whoa! Almost no one believes us when we tell them how old you are, you just don’t look it!), you’ve given us your first real laughs, and you’ve been doling out the smiles a lot more freely lately. You’re getting stronger by the day and your neck strength is unreal–you are so close to holding your head up completely on your own which I know is going to make you one happy baby. You also went on your first vacation this month (8 days long!) to the Bay Area with Mama, Daddy and Sirena and you turned out to be a fantastic little travel companion.
The last couple of weeks I’ve noticed that you follow a schedule pretty closely every day, give or take about an hour or two–you take a long 2- to 3-hour nap every afternoon (which I try to join you for most days), wake up to eat and stay awake for an hour or so, bath time, eat and bed time around 6:30pm, wake up around 11pm to eat, wake up around 5am to eat, cat nap in the morning and eat every couple of hours then repeat. It’s amazing that you’ve got some semblance of a schedule at such a young age and it really really helps me a ton in planning our day and thinking about Sirena’s schedule too.
Since feeding you is such a big part of my day and our relationship right now I thought I’d document some observations I’ve had so that they’re not forgotten: I haven’t used the Boppy breastfeeding pillow basically this entire month (something I used with your sister until she was closer to one year old!) because you’re big enough to rest comfortably on my thighs but something funny that I’ve noticed is because your head rests so heavily on my arm you leave a marking of the outline of your little ear just about every time you eat; you make this cute chirping sound when you’re just about finished eating and you’re falling asleep; even though you fought Daddy giving you a bottle at weeks 6 + 7 you finally took one without a hitch at week 8 (thank goodness!); the dead weight of your little body resting against my shoulder at the end of a feeding when you’re passed out is so comforting and sweet, I hope to never forget that feeling.
My most favorite thing about you and your newborn self is the way you curl your body up in the fetal position when I pick you up after you’re just starting to wake up. Your feet come together, your little booty pushes out, and you make the cutest facial expression known to humankind. I know one day in the very near future you’ll stop doing that so each time you do it I make an effort to take it all in.
You are such a little joy and we love you to pieces.
The TWO Month Rundown
- Ceiling fans: Nothing gets you to smile or chuckle as much as a good ol’ ceiling fan! Spinning or not you don’t discriminate.
- Bath time: You are so chill in the tub! Our little fish.
- Being loved on fiercely by your sister: Sirena loves (and I mean LOVES) you and wants to express that love for you as often and as mushy as possible which to you as a little newborn can be overwhelming at times. She kisses you and hugs you and tickles you and sings to you and makes goofy faces at you and it’s so sweet to witness until she gets a little carried away and we have to tell her to back off and give you some space when you start to squirm, make an angry face, and cry out for help. 😉
- When mama tries to feed you and you’re not hungry: Sometimes when you’re fussy and I cancel out other possible issues I try to feed you and if you’re not hungry for milk you waste no time in telling me. It’s kind of comical the way you will push away from me and cry out, makes me imagine you’re saying, “Get that thing out of my face!” Haha!
Big sis photo bomb!
And here’s Sirena’s two month photo in the armchair for comparison’s sake
The Many Facial Expressions of Lucia
Posted by Lisa On May 22nd, 2015
I am at a loss for words to describe just how incredibly fast this first month of your life has flown by! All of those days (and weeks) we were impatiently waiting and waiting (and waiting!) for your arrival seem like a lifetime ago.
You are a really amazing newborn, if I do say so myself. 😉 When you’re awake you’re super alert, checking out the world with those big, blue eyes of yours. You have incredible neck strength, already lifting your head up to look in the direction of your big sis when she calls your name or sings to you. You have gained an amazing amount of weight (we unofficially weighed you at home and you’re around 12 pounds already!) which can only mean that you and me are a great team, baby girl. You’ve been testing out your voice and making some cute “ahh” sounds, trying to communicate with us in a way other than crying (so thoughtful of you). You have already begun to dole out some adorable baby smiles which makes me so incredibly happy. And I cannot thank you enough for being a really great sleeper. I feel light years ahead of how I felt when your big sis was a month old because you give me much longer stretches of sleep during the night.
Already you have taken a liking to your big sister and her silly antics which brings me so much joy. I know you two are going to be the best of buddies (not to mention Lola, although you haven’t really noticed your furry sister yet!) We’re only a month in and we already LOVE having you a part of our family.
The One Month Rundown
- Swinging: You are not a fan of the bouncy chair we used for Sirena but we borrowed a swing from our friend and it has been a true lifesaver! You like to chill in the swing a few times a day and it’s been such a game changer, allowing us a bit more time to get things done around the house or with your sister.
- Dance parties/Music: Your Daddy is the king at calming you down by putting some tunes on and having a dance party, it’s so cute. Sirena and her baby doll Nine join in on the dance party most times as well.
- Your right hand: There’s something about your right arm, you love having it up near your face as much as possible for some reason. When nursing or when you’re sleeping, your little right fist is either just below your chin or next to your cheek.
- Being still: (See first three points above) When you need help falling asleep there is no way in heck you’re doing it with us just sitting down. You need us up walking/dancing around with you.
I’ll be taking a photo of Lucia in this little brown armchair each month for her first two years of life to see how much she grows and changes! I did the same thing for Sirena and treasure these photos so much. Here’s S at 1 month old for comparison’s sake.
The Many Facial Expressions of Lucia
Posted by Lisa On May 21st, 2015
Lucia’s first day of life
When Lucia was placed on my chest I was completely overwhelmed with how much she looked like Sirena! It was as if I had given birth to Sirena a second time, I was blown away. When Sirena was born she was pretty alert but it didn’t compare at all to how alert Lucia was. She just stared at me with her big eyes for those first 5-10 minutes in my arms and I just stared right back at her. Just a few minutes after she was born my sister and Sirena arrived and it was surreal telling S that here was her brand-new sister, after all those months talking about it! She and Jessie left the room and Kevin took L while the midwife and the birth attendants joined forces to help me get out of the tub and onto the bed. After I was settled, Kevin brought L back to me so that we could attempt breastfeeding and she latched on immediately which I was so happy about.
For the next couple of hours the birth team allowed us bonding time and all of the visitors (Nani and Bopa, Grandma and Papa, Auntie Jessie, Brianne and Brian) got their chance to hold L. Kevin and I were finally able to eat the dinner my mom had bought for us at Hole Mole 5 hours prior and boy did it hit the spot! Turns out L was born on “Taco Tuesday” so my mom and Steve had to fight the crowds and wait an incredibly long time to get the food in the first place. Maybe L is destined to be a foodie just like her big sis (and mom)?? After a couple of hours Jessie took Sirena back to her place so that she could get some rest from the crazy evening she just had.
Vickie came back into the room to prep for L’s newborn tests. It was such a difference from the hospital experience–she laid a blanket out on the bed right next to me and performed everything (other than weighing her which was done on the scale just a couple of feet from the bed) right there with all of L’s family surrounding her. All of us were anxious to find out how much L weighed and Libby, one of the birth attendants, commented that she had to be at least 9 pounds. All of us were shocked and said there was no way! Libby was certain that she was at least 9 pounds and I had a hard time believing she knew what she was talking about because L seemed so itty bitty compared to my now big toddler! The moment of truth arrived and L weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds, 9 ounces!! She measured 21.75 inches long and her head circumference was 15 cm. (For comparison’s sake, S weighed 8 pounds and measured 21.5 pounds, not sure about head circumference). Libby commented that L’s head was the biggest she had witnessed yet and was amazed at how well I did (if you think about it, a woman’s cervix dilates to 10 cm). Up until L’s birth she said that the largest head she witnessed was 14.5cm which she says was a “doozy.” It was at this point that she told me that of all of the midwives I could have been paired with for L’s birth, Vickie was the best one for me. She said that Vickie was the best at coaching moms through the pushing stage so as to minimize tearing and I know now that with a baby’s head as large as L’s, if I had birthed in a hospital and not had a coach like Vickie working with me, I would not have had the healing birth that I had set my intentions on and I would have had a much longer and painful recovery. I am so grateful for Vickie, my birthing team, the birth center, and Kevin of course for supporting me in my decision to birth there. It was so nice to hear all of the positive feedback from our visitors, everyone commented about how different the experience was even for them as visitors from a hospital experience and it was so wonderful hearing those comments.
Three hours after she was born I started getting restless and exhaustion was starting to take over so I asked Kevin to ask Vickie if we could start wrapping things up. Our visitors began leaving so that I could get cleaned up and dressed and so that Vickie and the team could talk with me and K about what our next steps would be with a brand-spankin’-new baby at home. It took about an hour for all of that to be taken care of and at just 4 hours old we made our way out of the birth center and on our way home. My mom and Steve caravaned behind us so that they could help us get settled in the house and Steve commented about how amazing it was that I walked out of the birth center, into the car, and walked into my home just 4 hours after giving birth (with Sirena’s hospital birth I used the wheelchair to go anywhere those first 2 days). In every way imaginable, birthing at the birth center was a much more calm, pleasant, empowering experience than my previous hospital birth and I cannot say enough good things about it!
We greeted Lola (who had held down the fort for us since we left at 6pm) and she gave Lucia a good sniff and quickly returned to her bed (she loooves her sleep). Kevin, Lucia and I made our way to the bedroom as well and were able to sleep peacefully, without any interruptions from nurses/doctors or beeping machines or bright fluorescent lights like at the hospital, for a few hours.
The next morning Jessie brought Sirena home to get acquainted with her little sis. It was so emotional seeing the two of them together finally after imagining it for so long!
Her first Week
Lucia had three doctor appointments within her first two full days of life–it was somewhat overwhelming to get us all out of the house on time for three appointments with a 3 y/o and a 1-2 day old! But somehow (somehow!) we did it. We first saw her pediatrician when she was not yet 24 hours old and she wanted to see her again the following day as well. When the nurse practitioner came out to the lobby to get us and she asked us how old she was she couldn’t believe that she was less than 24 hours old! They don’t get many babies coming in who are born in a birth center so it was a new way of doing business for them, seeing a brand-new baby like that (babies born in the hospital are generally observed around the clock by nurses/doctors for the first 2-3 days of life). She had lost some weight those first 24 hours but it was a very minimal decrease so there was no concern there at all. By her second appointment she had gained the weight back and then some (she was born at 9 lbs, 9 oz and by day 3 she was 9 lbs, 13 oz!) Our pediatrician was super happy about her weight gain and she said she was an overall healthy looking newborn! The third appointment Lucia had was back at the birth center where they conducted the newborn screening. It was surreal being back in the room where she was born just days before.
That first week we stuck around close to home either at our house or at my mom’s and we welcomed a nice group of visitors to the house to meet the little nugget throughout the week. Here are a few photos from L’s first week:
First time taking the new double stroller out for a ride! We walked the block at our annual neighborhood garage sale when L was 4 days old.
A very unhappy baby getting her first bath!
Another attempt at a siblings shot
We were out and about a lot more after her first week which felt really nice.
We took a trip to the Long Beach Main Library (which Kevin and I hadn’t been to in years). Sirena had a blast in their huge children’s section and Lucia, well, she just slept through the whole excursion. 🙂
Sisters both passed out in the car
We surprised Sirena after preschool one day and took her and L to Rancho Los Alamitos for an afternoon visit.
Lead the way, big sis!
We also made a trip to Royal Palms beach in San Pedro–this is a really special place for my family because my mom grew up spending a ton of time at this beach with her family and she took me and my siblings there a bunch growing up as well. It was really special to take my girls there to continue the tradition. My mom, Steve, Jessie, Derek, and Steve’s grandson Christian joined us for a very nice (but super chilly!) afternoon.
Auntie Jessie holding L
My First Mother’s Day With Lucia
My one Mother’s Day wish was to go to the Renaissance Faire with my family which I am so happy to report we were able to do!
That morning my mom invited us over for some coffee and pan dulce and it was a really nice, relaxing Mother’s Day morning. Then Kevin, Jessie, the girls, and I were on our way to the Ren Faire. It was Faery Day at the faire so Sirena was happy to dress for the part.
Sirena was a bit taken aback by the people in character who would approach us but she did agree to wave her magic wand for this lady 🙂
Jessie trying on some amazing masks!
Lucia’s first concert!
The one photo that was taken of me and both my girls–me changing a diaper and helping Sirena with her drink. Typical “mom” moment, right??
Sirena wanted Mama to ride the giant swing with her. I gotta be honest, it was a spooky ride! Those guys pushed us sooo high, I almost thought I’d slip out at one point but I had to keep my cool in front of Sirena to not freak her out, haha!
Queen Sirena at your service
My little munchkins
Posted by Lisa On May 18th, 2015
Tuesday, April 21st–Lucia’s birthday
1:00 AM – 3:30 AM
I was woken up by some intense contractions and after a few rounds decided to put the Contraction Timer app that I had installed on my phone to use thinking today might be the day. For 2.5 hours the contractions varied in frequency from 8 minutes apart to 12 minutes apart, lasting 30-50 seconds long each. The birth center advised that we call the midwife when they were 8 minutes apart and lasted one minute long for one hour so it was still too early to call. They were intense enough that I had to breathe really deeply to get through each of them but they began tapering off around 3:30. I decided to turn my phone off and try to get some rest which, luckily, I was able to do.
6:45 AM – 9:00 AM
Sirena woke up at 6:45 and came into our room for her morning snuggles. I told Kevin about my evening and he immediately got excited. We tag-teamed getting Sirena ready for preschool and he took her to school by himself because I was too nervous to leave the house in case things started picking up again in intensity while out. Kevin told Sirena when he dropped her off that either Nani or Auntie Jessie might be picking her up from school that day, just to give her a heads-up. We texted our moms and my sister telling them to be on alert that day because things were definitely happening.
9:30 AM – 10:15 AM
Kevin and I took Lola for a nice long 45 minute walk through our neighborhood. It felt really good to get out in the fresh air and be physically active instead of cooped up in the house and stuck with my thoughts (which have the tendency to spiral when I’m stressed out which, as you can imagine, I was starting to become). The weather had changed drastically from the days prior–it was overcast and cooled down quite a bit which was such a nice change especially for a super pregnant woman on a long walk! I started using the Contraction Timer app again while on the walk and they were picking up in intensity but were coming along with the same inconsistency as before. Throughout the walk I had to pause when a contraction began and either breathe it out in place or attempt to walk and breathe it out (walking during the contraction sometimes felt better than just standing in place).
10:30 AM – 12:00 NOON
Kevin thought it’d be wise to pack all of our stuff into the car just to be ready whenever the time came. I continued timing my contractions and it was at this point that I began feeling them more intensely in my lower back so when a contraction would begin I would lean over onto the couch or the counter or the table, breathe deeply, and sway back and forth to get some relief. For about 20 minutes during this time my sister called me to ask some work-related questions (she’s taking over part of my job responsibility while I’m on maternity leave) and 2-3 times I’d have to tell her to hang on, put the phone down, and breathe/sway through a contraction.
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Kevin and I made ourselves a significant lunch to help us power through the afternoon. We ate on the patio and it was nice to have some one-on-one time in the outdoors not knowing when the next time we’d have a moment to ourselves would be if Lucia decided to make today her birthday.
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
My contractions were still feeling intense in my lower abdomen and lower back but were still coming on inconsistently and my thoughts began to spiral. I didn’t know if things were really progressing or if this was false labor (and if so, I didn’t know how long I’d be able to handle it!). I also was so unsure as to when to call the midwife (I didn’t want to raise a false alarm but also didn’t want to progress so quickly that we wouldn’t have enough time to make it to the birth center). I decided that I needed to center myself and get myself in the right head space so sat down to chant (Buddhist prayer) which I did during this time. I texted with my sister and told her I was getting nervous and she called me which I so desperately needed. She helped talk me through my feelings and reminded me that I am a strong woman who can absolutely have this baby naturally and create the healing birth experience that I had set my intentions on. She told me it was more than okay to cry if I felt that was necessary just to get it out. After hanging up with her I did cry and felt a huge release in doing so. From 2-3pm I made a concerted effort to chant and time the contractions and then call the midwife at 3pm to get her opinion on how things were progressing. For that hour the contractions were getting more intense–I’d have to rise up to my knees from my cross-legged position, lean over on a stool, sway back and forth, breathe deeply, and make a low “ahhh” sound relaxing my jaw to get through each one. They were still somewhat inconsistent in how frequent they were coming along (from 8-12 minutes apart, lasting 45-60 seconds each) but their intensity made me think that the time was getting near to meet our little girl.
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
I called and left a message on the birth center’s pager for the midwife on call and within a few minutes was called back by Vickie, the midwife who was on call that day. We had only met with Vickie a couple of times during our prenatal visits so I didn’t know her too well and was feeling a little disheartened that it wasn’t midwife Allison on call that day (the one who we had felt the closest connection with during the pregnancy). Turns out Vickie was probably the best midwife to work with me during Lucia’s birth, more on that later. On the phone Vickie was very matter-of-fact about things–she asked me about Sirena’s labor (so she could get some idea as to how quickly it went for me the first time) and she said that although my contractions were still a bit inconsistent in frequency, as a second time mama things could change in a heartbeat and so she was going to begin getting ready herself and make her way up to the Long Beach birth center (she was located in south Orange County so appreciated the 3pm heads-up so as not to be stuck in terrible traffic). Before hanging up she said she wanted to wait until my next contraction began so that she could hear me talk through it (or not) and get a feel for how intense they were–but of course during our whole 10 minute phone conversation I didn’t have one contraction! She said that regardless, she’d make her way up to Long Beach and call me when she arrived so that we could meet her at the birth center and check on my progress.
From 3-4pm I continued to chant and time my contractions.
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
I texted my mom and sister asking if one of them could please pick up Sirena from preschool for us. My mom said she’d be happy to and would pick her up at 5pm. I finished chanting and decided to take a shower, have a glass of wine (I had bought a bottle of wine for just this occasion, to help relax me during early labor), and get myself ready to go to the birth center. Vickie called me at 5pm letting us know she had arrived and that we could begin making our way to the birth center.
5:15 PM – 5:45 PM
Kevin and I left for the birth center at 5:15pm and arrived at 5:30pm. Vickie greeted us and had us go back to the examination room. I was so happy to hear that I was 4 centimeters dilated (which was exactly how far along I was when I was admitted to the hospital for Sirena’s birth!) She suggested that we walk around the park next door for 30 minutes and then check in with her again afterwards to see if things were progressing.
5:45 PM – 6:15 PM
Kevin and I made two loops around the neighborhood park next door. It was surreal being out there, walking past the playground where kids were happily playing, walking past people who were out walking their dogs, all while I was hugely pregnant and had to pause every 8-10 minutes to lean on Kevin and breathe through a contraction. We wondered how many of the neighbors whose homes were across the street from the park were looking out their windows and thinking, “There goes another pregnant woman and her partner, walking her baby out!” I continued using the Contraction Timer app so that I could report back to Vickie how they were coming along. Before going into the birth center we went to the car so that I could get a protein bar and coconut water to fuel up.
We checked back into the birth center and let Vickie know that they maintained their intensity and frequency during the walk. She wanted to watch me through a contraction and, yet again, it seems I got stage fright and a contraction wouldn’t happen while in the lobby! She suggested we go outside again for another half hour of walking and to check in with her afterwards.
6:15 PM – 6:45 PM
As we left the birth center and started our second round of laps around the park I noticed that my mom was getting out of her car in the parking lot. She told us that she left Sirena with Jessie because she wanted to make sure she was there in time and didn’t miss the birth so she joined us for one lap around the park. My contractions were getting more intense and frequent and I was having a hard time focusing with an “audience” so we asked my mom if she wouldn’t mind grabbing us some dinner from Hole Mole (a taco shop two doors down from the birth center) while we walked another lap around the park.
Each contraction was coming along quicker and were more and more intense especially towards the end of our second lap.
We checked back in to the birth center and luckily I had a contraction a minute after arriving so Vickie was able to observe me. Afterwards she said that it was very clear things were definitely coming along and that she was going to call in the birth attendants and start getting the room ready for us.
7:00 PM – 7:30 PM
I had tested positive for Group B Strep (a very common bacterial infection found in many pregnant women that can be passed on to babies during birth, I had tested positive for it during Sirena’s pregnancy as well) so she had to give me penicillin via an IV every 4 hours and wanted to get started right away in case Lucia arrived quickly. As Vickie was hooking me up to the IV she asked me about Sirena’s birth. I told her about the labor and the pushing while on my back which led to tearing and a really long recovery. I told her that it was my hope to make this my healing birth and she said that she would do everything in her power to help me minimize tearing and have the healing birth experience I wanted.
While hooked up to the IV for around 30 minutes I used an exercise ball to rock around on between contractions. Once a contraction started I had to get up off of the ball because the low back pain was too intense and I could not stand it sitting down. Towards the end of those 30 minutes I was having a really hard time getting up off of the ball at the start of each contraction so once I was disconnected from the IV I decided to remain standing.
In between contractions I was able to take the whole experience in–it was so refreshing to see Vickie turning on (electric) candles and dimming the overhead lights to set a comfortable mood in the room and it was surreal to see her getting all of the newborn baby things together for when Lucia arrived.
Libby, one of the birth attendants, arrived and introduced herself. She and Vickie continued to get the room ready while I worked through each contraction every few minutes. Things were getting more intense and I told Kevin to update our family and friends via text. He read me what he was going to send and he had included something about me not yet being in active labor. I was bewildered and had to ask Libby if I was, in fact, in active labor or not and I was grateful to hear that yes I was definitely in active labor! If that wasn’t active labor I didn’t know if I could handle anything more intense than that for a long period of time! Kevin updated his text message to let everyone know my status. 🙂
7:45 PM – 8:30 PM
Kevin put on some classical music which was a nice mental break in between contractions. He went out to the car to get our bags so that I could change into a nursing sports bra and a robe and we’d be ready with Lucia’s things (clothes, diapers, car seat, blankets) once she arrived. From my purse I grabbed out the affirmations that I had brought with me to help me remain focused–the ones that were the most helpful for me were, “I trust that my body knows how to birth this baby,” and, of course, “This is my healing birth.”
During each contraction I had to continue to lean my forearms onto the dresser, hang my head down low, rock my lower body back and forth, and make a low “ahhh” sound while relaxing my jaw. The back labor was getting really hard to manage and as if she could read my mind, Libby arrived with a heating pad that Kevin placed on my low back and it was pure relief. The heating pad was my saving grace during this period!
Vickie and Libby had asked if I wanted to birth in the bathtub and I said yes so they began filling the tub up. The other birth attendant, Raquel, arrived around this time and introduced herself but I could barely focus on anything other than the work my body was doing so she was mostly behind-the-scenes during the birth.
Around 8:30 during another intense contraction I knew that the period of labor called “transition” (which is a relatively short period of labor just before the pushing stage) was upon us because I got nauseous and felt like I had to throw up (the same thing happened during labor with Sirena).
8:30 PM – 8:45 PM
Vickie had told me earlier to continue to drink as much water as possible so that I could relieve myself frequently which would help Lucia continue to descend. At this point it was the second time I felt that I had to use the restroom and so went into the restroom connected to the birthing room and had closed the door most of the way. While sitting down I had an incredibly intense sensation that I needed to push and called out to Kevin and Vickie saying so. Vickie rushed in telling me that the toilet was not a pleasant place to have a baby (I couldn’t have agreed more!) so she and Libby helped me walk back out into the birthing room.
The tub wasn’t quite filled up yet so they encouraged me to get on the bed on all fours because it seemed to Vickie that that’s where I got the most relief during the contractions (leaning forwards). As I lifted my knee to get on the bed I was overwhelmed with the sensation of my water bag breaking! They continued to help me climb on the bed and within a minute of being there my arms were shaking so bad, almost violently, and I was having a really hard time keeping myself up (over the course of the day I had walked for 2 hours and had been standing the last hour and a half through the contractions so it’s no wonder that my body was exhausted). I stayed on the bed during one contraction but after it was over I was able to squeak out the word “bathtub” and luckily Kevin heard me, asked me if I wanted to get in the bathtub, and I was able to enthusiastically nod my head in agreement. The whole team helped me get off of the bed, get out of my robe, and get into the bathtub.
8:45 PM – 9:10 PM
Having my body surrounded by warm water was a huge relief. My body temperature rose pretty quickly and I was sweating and feeling a bit uncomfortable and again, as if she could read my mind, Libby came to the rescue with cold washcloths which she laid over my back and had Kevin rub my forehead with another. Each time they placed a new cold washcloth on me I would nod my head enthusiastically because that was the only way I could communicate to them that that was exactly what I had needed and it was so appreciated.
I was on my knees in the tub, leaning my forearms onto the sides of the tub, for the first part of the pushing phase. As a contraction came on I would relax my knees into the side of the tub, lean my head down, relax my jaw, and let out a low moaning “ahhh” sound. After a few rounds of this Vickie told me that it seemed to her that I was actually stifling the urge to push through my deep breathing and I nodded in agreement. She told me that at this point I needed to listen to my body and if it told me to push, I needed to push. It was so reassuring to hear her tell me that it was okay to push as hard as my body was telling me to–I had been afraid to do so because I was afraid of tearing but hearing her telling me it was okay was so helpful and a huge relief.
During the next few contractions I did as she had advised and pushed when my body told me to. Vickie was helping me minimize tearing with massage and hearing the verbal feedback throughout from Libby saying, “You’re doing an amazing job,” was so extremely helpful and appreciated. The noises that were coming out of me were primal, there’s really no other way to describe it! It’s so incredible how birth taps into the most basic animal instincts within each woman.
After each push I knew that Lucia’s arrival was getting that much closer so at the end of this period and after a contraction I was able to squeak out the word “moms” to Kevin–he asked me if I wanted our moms to come in at that time, I nodded in agreement, and Raquel went out to the lobby to get them.
9:10 PM – 9:23 PM
After our moms arrived Vickie told me that I needed to flip over in order for Lucia to have enough room to come out. They helped me maneuver my body into position which was no easy feat because I could barely be of any help as pregnant as I was and as far along into labor as I was. Kevin continued placing cold washcloths on my forehead which were so appreciated and Vickie continued to massage me.
It was during these final 3-4 sets of pushes that Vickie had to coach me so that I would keep any tearing to a minimum. She told me that at this point I had to prevent myself from pushing as hard as my body wanted to so that I could ease Lucia’s head out and the way to do that was to breathe out like I was blowing out a candle. Vickie was in my ear breathing just like that so that I could mimic her. This was by far the most intense experience of the entire labor and birth. After that final push I felt Lucia’s entire body squirm its way out of me and it was the most incredible relief I have ever felt in my life! Vickie caught her but immediately passed her to Kevin and he’s the one that brought her out of the water and onto my chest. She came right out of the water and into this world squeaky clean and as soon as I laid my eyes on her I was overwhelmed with pure love for this new little creature we had created and brought into our family.
And in an instant we went from being a family of three to a family of four and our lives haven’t been the same since.
Posted by Lisa On April 27th, 2015
Week 40: Baby’s the size of a small pumpkin
Lucia’s due date came and went and, strangely enough, as soon as April 15th was over I felt a ton less anxious about the pregnancy going on as long as it was. I decided to take advantage of the time Lucia was giving me to relax as much as possible (taking one nap a day…glorious), spending as much one-on-one time with Sirena as possible (picnic lunch at a new park, feeding the ducks at the duck pond), and walkingwalkingwalking as much as possible every single day (Lola was in doggy heaven!)
Monday, April 20 was the last full day of the pregnancy before labor began. We had what turned out to be a final prenatal appointment that morning and was met with the same disappointing news as last week’s appointment–I hadn’t yet started dilating and my cervix was still pretty high up. I got teary-eyed and the midwife was so reassuring–she said that as a second time mama things could change in an instant and that I was still just fine in terms of the length of the pregnancy and that she wasn’t getting worried yet so I shouldn’t be worried yet. Hearing the confidence she had in me gave me a ton of confidence and I left the appointment feeling hopeful.
Sirena was with Nani (my mom) that day and I was lucky in that both of my siblings randomly reached out to spend some time with me (they were in sync that day!) We went on a long walk with Lola and it felt great to catch up with the both of them. That afternoon when I went to pick up Sirena from my mom’s house I was given a really touching gift–my mom put on Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath my Wings” and Sirena put on the most amazing interpretive dance the entire length of the song. I was so emotional listening to the words of the song and watching the innocence and the amazing way in which she expressed herself (and her kick-ass dance moves!) It was an incredible way to end the pregnancy and the era of Sirena being an only child.
This final belly shot was taken on the last day of the 40th week of pregnancy, Lucia’s birthday (April 21). It was taken in front of the birth center only 4.5 hours before she was born!
Other pregnancy updates:
- Total weight gained so far: 17 pounds
- Fun baby developments: She’s probably around 20 inches long and in the 8-9 pound range. Her skull bones haven’t yet fused (to allow for passage through the birth canal) and her hair/nails are still growing and her lungs are continuing to develop, getting ready for that first wail of life!
Posted by Lisa On April 15th, 2015
Week 39: Baby’s the size of a mini watermelon
Like the past few weeks, this week has been quite the roller coaster emotionally. Each day I’m anxious about whether or not it’s the last day of the pregnancy and the logistics of getting Sirena situated with childcare and getting me and Kevin to the birth center on time, especially if it’s some crazy hour in the middle of the night. Towards the end of week 39 I was treated by my friend Kim to a wonderful prenatal massage which was downright heavenly. I also decided to treat myself to a manicure (something that I’ve done only a handful of times in my life!) and it felt really good to do these types of things especially so late in the pregnancy when so much of my physical/emotional/mental energy is focused on another living being (beings if you count Sirena too!) besides myself.
As I publish this blog post I’m actually at Lucia’s due date: April 15 (40 weeks pregnant to the day). It’s a bit surreal to be writing this post because never did I think I’d make it to her due date! Sirena was a week early and I thought that meant something but it obviously doesn’t mean much. Today we had our 40 week prenatal appointment and I was met with some less-than-stellar news after my internal exam: Lucia actually has not dropped like I thought she had a couple of weeks ago. She’s still pretty high up there and hasn’t dropped into my pelvis yet. It’s hard to believe because it feels like she’s sitting right on top of my lap when I sit down and I feel intense pressure on my bladder but my body just carries this pregnancy differently and the reality is that this girl ain’t quite ready yet. The midwife said that it could change at any minute especially for a second time mama but I was really hoping/expecting some better news (that she had definitely dropped and I had already started dilating). I have another prenatal appointment on Monday (40.5 weeks) for a non-stress test for the baby and to talk about possibly sweeping the membranes if we decide to go that route to help move things along. At our next visit we’ll also schedule a follow-up visit for that following Thursday to check on the progress of things. The midwife suggested some homeopathic tablets for labor preparation which I decided to try out and will be taking them twice a day until Lucia’s born.
Each night as Kevin and I put Sirena to bed I get emotional thinking about the fact that it may be the last time I kiss her goodnight before the craziness of newborn days begins and I’m no longer just mama to Sirena. I’m trying my best to enjoy each and every moment of our time together (tantrums and all, haha) because I know this reality is quickly coming to an end. Although the thought of her and Lucia being buddies and playing together and loving each other brings me so much joy, I know that the alone time I have had with Sirena has been so special and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. <3
Other pregnancy updates:
- Total weight gained so far: 17 pounds
- Fun baby developments: She’s probably around 20 inches long and between 7-8 pounds. She’s probably able to flex her limbs now and her brain is still rapidly developing, getting smarter by the week!
Posted by Lisa On April 7th, 2015
Week 38: Baby’s the size of a pumpkin
This week started off with our 38 week prenatal appointment–Sirena tagged along again and midwife Elizabeth was really great about including her in all aspects of the visit including helping her get all of the materials out, measuring my belly, squirting the goopy stuff on my belly so that she could use the fetal heart doppler machine, and cleaning my belly off afterwards. 🙂 The midwife felt Lucia and confirmed she’s still in the heads-down position and she thinks she was around 7 pounds at the time. My belly is still measuring a week behind but everything else is showing signs of good progress so there’s no worry there.
I finally tackled one huge item off my to-do list this week which was prepare three meals to store in the freezer for when Lucia’s here so that we don’t have to worry for a week at least about making dinner. The midwives also suggest bringing a meal for Kevin and me (especially me) to eat after the birth so one of those meals is for us to chow down on. I remember how hungry I was after Sirena was born and because it’s not a hospital setting with a full kitchen they won’t be providing us food and if it’s 3am we may not be able to get anything so it’s best for us to prepare ahead and being a meal to eat. I made sure to make it protein and carb heavy for the marathon I’m about to embark on!
This past week has felt like a roller coaster for me. It was my last few days of work which had me overwhelmed, stressed beyond measure, and frankly just tapped out. After signing off for work for 3 months (hallelujah!) the start of my maternity leave began with a couple of days being with Sirena on my own which isn’t anything new and I generally love our “Mommy + Sirena time” but she has been going through a somewhat difficult phase (outright saying “no” when I ask her to do something, yelling and trying to hit me when I put my foot down, and an emotional meltdown when she doesn’t get her way) which also left me running on empty. After the weekend I was blessed with two full days off–from work and, I hate to say it, but from Sirena too while my mom watched her on Monday and she was in preschool on Tuesday. These past two days have been incredible–I don’t have to worry about being anywhere, doing anything in particular, or anyone else’s needs but my own. I could nap when I wanted to (glorious I tell you!) and I’ve felt so relaxed the past two days, something that I guess I haven’t felt in a long (long) time that Kevin even noticed how different I’ve been acting. I appreciate this little baby Lucia for giving me at least two days to recharge and refuel, it’s been so nice. But I keep telling her that I don’t need too much time off before her arrival because I want to spend as much time of my maternity leave with her as possible. She’s the boss, though!
A few people in my family (including me) thought that Easter Sunday might be the day Lucia decided to make her grand appearance which, obviously, didn’t happen. I also thought she might decide to share a birthday with her Papa George (Kevin’s dad) which was yesterday and again that obviously didn’t happen. It’s funny how many people keep asking me where the baby is and if I’m still pregnant when we aren’t even at her due date yet but since Sirena was a week early and since Lucia dropped 1.5 weeks ago I guess it makes sense that everyone thinks she should be here any minute! I’m doing my best to just trust her and not get myself worked up as each day passes. During Sirena’s pregnancy, this was the last blog post I wrote before she was born. The following day (when I began week 39 which is tomorrow) my water broke and then she was born the following day (so Thursday of this week). Crazy! These final weeks/days of pregnancy are a trip–so much anticipation and anxiety and excitement! Many times throughout the day I think, “This might be my last time __ before Lucia’s born” which trips me out. Trying to soak up these last days (hopefully just days) of being a mama of one and living this life as I know it.
I’ll end this blog post with a gratuitous photo of Sirena who climbed into Lucia’s Rock ‘n Play sleeper, pretended to drink from a toy bottle, all while wearing her “Big Sis” outfit, lol!
Other pregnancy updates:
- Total weight gained so far: 17 pounds
- How I’m feeling physically: Overall pretty good! Still tired each day but as long as I get a little nap in the afternoon I’m good for the rest of the day. Another possible sign that her arrival is approaching is that for the past three days my pelvic bones have felt really sore like things are loosening up in preparation for childbirth.
- Fun baby developments: She measures around 20 inches and weighs somewhere in the 7-8 pound range but who really knows until she’s born!
- Days until our next prenatal appointment: 2!
- Days until due date: 8! (April 15)
Posted by Lisa On April 2nd, 2015
Week 36: Baby’s the size of a honeydew melon
We had our prenatal appointment this week and I’m soooo happy to report that Lucia’s in a heads-down position (woohoo!) The midwife wasn’t 100% certain just by touch so she busted out the ultrasound machine to verify that the hard bump she was feeling at the top of my uterus was her booty and not her head (lol!) Kevin got a good look at her round head but other than that, not much to report with the u/s itself. The midwife gave us our checklist of things to watch for in terms of signs of labor, when to call the office, what to bring with us, etc. and we made weekly appointments for the next 5 weeks (hopefully we won’t be needing all of those appointments!)
The past week I spent a long while making a master checklist and crossing items off one by one–things to take to the birth center, last minute baby items, postpartum recovery items–and I’m happy to report that just about everything has been purchased and put where it needs to be. One more week until we’re officially eligible to birth at the birth center but as of now at least we’re ready to go when the time comes!
The last big thing we did this week was take some maternity/family photos. I asked my sister Jessie to snap some shots of us and we used good ol’ Pinterest as inspiration for some of the shots and I am so so so happy with how they turned out. Here are my faves:
We can’t wait to meet you, baby girl!
Week 37: Baby’s the size of a four grapefruits
This week started off with our 37 week prenatal appointment and Sirena and Grandma both came along–Sirena wanted to hear the baby’s heartbeat and Grandma wanted to check out the birth center before the big day! Midwife Alison asked Sirena if she wanted to help her listen to the heartbeat and Sirena enthusiastically said yes. She got to hold the handheld fetal heart doppler, turn it on, and hang onto it while the midwife searched for the heartbeat. She smiled so big when we finally heard it and she agreed that it sounded like a little helicopter in my belly. My belly is measuring slightly behind schedule but there’s no concern there. Everything is looking good (blood pressure, weight, baby’s heart rate, etc.) and I’m just so happy that we made it to this point so that we’re officially eligible to birth at the birth center!
My co-workers threw me a little baby shower which was so thoughtful and it was a nice little celebration in my second to last week of work. This week was also one of the more stressful weeks at work that I’ve had in a long time and I’m glad it’s now behind me. I’m training two people to take over for me while I’m on leave which is great but it was also overwhelming trying to think of everything I do and everything they need to know while also not being able to do the normal day-to-day work that was still needing my attention. I’m so looking forward to putting my out-of-office message on for the next 3ish months! 🙂
The big news this week is that Lucia has most definitely dropped! When I sit down it feels like she’s sitting right on top of my lap and it’s hard to bend straight over, I have to bend my knees outwards to make room for my belly. The pressure on my bladder is also super intense–not 30 minutes after I go to the bathroom I feel this intense urge to pee again because she’s pressing down directly on it. Sirena dropped one week before her birth. As I write this post it’s been a week since she dropped so we’ll see how long she’ll hang down low with her mama!
I read and reread the second half of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book three times the past few weeks which I cannot recommend enough to any pregnant woman (whether or not their goal is to have a natural, unmedicated birth). The second half of the book is filled with so much wisdom from “America’s leading midwife” Ina May and it has helped immensely in my ability to get me in the right head space while preparing for another natural birth. I am hopeful that with this knowledge, the affirmations I’ve written down from it and continue to read through, and with the support of the midwives at the birth center (such a vastly different environment than the hospital Sirena was born at) that not only will I be able to have another natural birth (I’m not too concerned about that) but that it will be a much more pleasant and rewarding experience and that my physical and emotional recovery from it will be a thousand times better. One affirmation that I continue to repeat to myself and I know will go through my head over and over again during labor is: This is my healing birth.
This week she’s the size of 4 grapefruits…at 24 weeks she was the size of just one grapefruit. Check out the major difference in my belly from week 24!
Other pregnancy updates:
- Total weight gained so far: 16 pounds
- Fun baby developments: She is officially full-term! Her most crucial functions are developed and now she’s just getting stronger and chubbier (just the way we like ‘em!) She probably weighs 6.5 pounds and still measures around 20 inches long.
- How I’m emotionally and physically feeling: I’m so tired all the darn time–sleep is hard to come by at night (at least long stretches of it without having to maneuver thisaway and thataway to get comfortable or having to get up to go to the bathroom) and I cannot stop my body from sweating like crazy all day long. I’ve felt like I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster lately too–some days I wake up super irritable and it’s hard to shake it off while other times I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of tears. Work has been beyond overwhelming and I’m hopeful that once I’m officially on maternity leave (see below) there will be some relief in the stress/emotional department.
- Number of days left at work: One as of tonight!! Halle-freakin’-lujah.
Posted by Lisa On March 17th, 2015
Week 34: Baby’s the size of a Butternut squash
Sirena has really stepped up into the big sister role this week. She bought Lucia her first birth day gift (a cute little stuffed zebra) and she can’t wait to give it to her when she’s born and they meet for the first time. <3
She told me, “I want to meet baby now,” this week and has been a bit impatient not knowing exactly when she gets to meet her. And this week Big Sister transitioned to a big girl bed! We would’ve kept her confined in a crib longer but we decided it’d be better for her to go through this major change now without the additional major life change of having a baby sister around.
Not much else this week in the baby department to be honest. A thought did cross my mind this week that I’m actually ready to not be pregnant anymore. With Sirena’s pregnancy I felt good through to the very end but this time around I just feel so much more physically strained and emotionally drained at times that I think I’m about ready for this chapter to be over (even knowing the craziness of life-with-a-newborn that is on the horizon!)
No photo this week, oops!
Week 35: Baby’s the size of a coconut
This week was super busy for us, namely because we co-hosted a baby shower at our house and built a playhouse for Sirena (and Lucia) in preparation for the party! So many weeks of planning with my friend Brianne were rewarded with a really fun and enjoyable celebration with our family and friends.
The theme was “Little Miss Sunshine” (going off of the Italian translation of Lucia’s name which is “light”) and we mainly used yellow/pink/orange colors through all of our decorations.
Bri made Lucia’s name banner which will go over her changing table
Kevin’s beautiful three-layer ombre cake!
We had a little “photo booth” and some of the party goers took advantage…
Sophie’s message to Lucia: “I love Disneyland” (Gotta love the mind of an 8 year old!)
We played some fun (and hopefully not too cheesy) shower games: people wrote their “wishes for Lucia” on notecards and I’ll be putting them in her baby book. We froze tiny baby figurines in ice cubes and gave one to each guest to watch in their drinks while we opened gifts and the first three people whose baby floated to the top of the water were supposed to yell out, “My water broke!” And lastly we had people write messages to me and Kevin on diapers to entertain us during those middle-of-the-night diaper changes. Here were the three I chose as winners!
More photos of the party…
Our original ray of sunshine
The play house! We’ve still got to paint it and put all the finishing touches on it but at least the floor, walls and roof were up in time. 🙂
My partner-in-crime, Bri. I can’t thank her enough and this party honestly would not have happened without her!
The party favors–citrus hand sanitizers and baggies of chocolate dipped Oreos. We also had a fun sun-themed craft and ribbon wands we made for the kiddos, I just forgot to take pictures of them!
And finally some family-of-three-on-the-brink-of-family-of-four photos…
Even though this week has been the most stressful with work (preparing for my maternity leave) and preparing our house for the party (and not to mention hottest week in March EVER!) and even though by the time the party was over I was so physically exhausted, this week my thoughts on being pregnant have changed a bit compared to last week. I realized that this may very well be the last time I am ever pregnant and the last time I ever get to experience growing a life and being so physically connected to a baby and with that thought I determined to do my best to enjoy every minute of it. <3
Other pregnancy updates:
- Total weight gained so far: 15 pounds. I’ve officially passed the total weight gained during Sirena’s entire pregnancy, which was 14 pounds total!
- Fun baby developments: She measures around 20 inches now and weighs a little over 5 pounds. At this point she probably won’t grow much longer so all of her attention will be focused on packing on the pounds! Her kidneys and her sense of hearing are fully developed and at this point all she’s got left to do is allow her lungs to mature. She keeps her eyes open most of the time while she’s awake and only shuts them when she’s sleeping, and she can now determine the difference between sweet and sour tastes in the amniotic fluid surrounding her.
- Random fact: It was at 35 weeks during Sirena’s pregnancy that I finished student teaching! I can’t even imagine having that crazy schedule working full-time, student teaching half-time, and going to school half-time this far into the pregnancy. I must’ve been on drugs! But I do fondly remember my time with those 6th and 7th grade knuckleheads (who are 9th and 10th graders now, ahhh!) and I remember how much they enjoyed “bonding” with Sirena as she grew in my belly while I was working in their classroom.
- Number of weeks left at work: 3 (including this week!) Things are crazy right now as I prepare for a couple of people to take over my job duties and tying all of the loose ends up and I am so looking forward to signing off that last time for 3 months of maternity leave.
- Days until our next prenatal appointment: 2! We may get an ultrasound if the midwife can’t determine by touch if she’s in a head down position or not. After this appointment we’ll be meeting with the midwives once a week. It’s really happening!
Posted by Lisa On March 6th, 2015
Week 32: Baby’s the size of a Squash
We’re at the 8 month mark, folks! Only 1.5-2 months to go…I can’t believe it.
Really not too much to report this week in the baby department other than the fact that Kevin and I have gone into nesting overdrive! Our friends Celia and Chris gave us their old changing table and our friend Kim let us borrow her glider which prompted us to clean out our room, move our dresser into the closet, and make a little corner specifically for Lucia at least for those initial months of middle-of-the-night diaper changes and feedings. We still need a lamp and some baskets to put under the dressing table so that we can bring out all of the ridiculously small and cute baby clothes and start filling ’em up. Sirena and I bought our first box of size 1 diapers (they’re so itty bitty!) so we’re ready for her to arrive any day now (but PLEASE don’t come this early, baby girl!)
This week Lucia seems to have turned the thermostat way up in this body of mine because I have been so overheated lately. I experienced the same thing during Sirena’s pregnancy around this time and it is intense! In addition to this typical third trimester physical change, I’m also experiencing crazy exhaustion again and a whole lot of uncomfortable pulling and tugging on my belly with the weight of this bundle I’m carrying. I can’t stand for too long without needing to lean over and relieve the pressure from my belly and it takes a lot to get comfortable sitting and laying down too. These adorable babies sure make their mamas work hard to meet them! 🙂
Week 33: Baby’s the size of a pineapple
Kevin and I started out this week with a prenatal appointment and everything is looking juuuust fine. My belly is measuring right on schedule and her heartbeat sounds perfect. My mom accompanied me to an event hosted by the birth center called “Meet the Midwives tea” which is an opportunity for all third trimester mamas to meet all of the midwives in case we hadn’t met all of them during our prenatal appointments. I’m really glad my mom was able to go and experience it with me because, like with Sirena’s birth, she’s going to be present for the birth and it gave her a great chance to have some of her questions answered and understand what to expect with a birth center birth (versus a hospital birth).
On a personal note, I realized that my stress levels were getting out of hand this week and that I needed to chill out not just for my sake but for Lucia’s sake too. Anyone who really knows me knows that I have to keep myself busy and I’m always gogogo. Even at almost 8.5 pregnant, I don’t keep myself from being out in the yard weeding, planning a baby shower, working full-time, all while doing my best to keep up with my busybody toddler Sirena. It came to a head this week and I basically had an emotional meltdown with Kevin which led to an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions–this really started to worry me as an increase in contractions are a sign of pre-term labor. I kept close track of them and they returned to the usual 1-3 times a day occurrence within a day which I was so relieved about. Even though babies born this early are generally healthy and turn out fine, she’s got a lot of major developing to continue in utero and I really hope she stays put at least until 37 weeks (I won’t be a candidate for the birth center before 37 weeks and will have to deliver at the hospital which is not something I am interested in doing again). I realized that I need to keep my stress levels in check so that she feels that my belly is a safe place to continue to be and grow in.
On a lighter note, I made some major developments in her nursery (I mean, corner-of-our-bedroom-dedicated-to-baby space). I pulled out all of Sirena’s baby clothes, washed her 0-6 mos clothes, organized them into the baskets under her changing table, and put up some artwork (the artwork wall is still a work in progress).
No photo this week, oops!
Other pregnancy updates:
- Total weight gained so far: 13 pounds
- Number of times Lucia gets hiccups each day: At least 1-2 times!
- Fun baby developments: She weighs around 4.5 pounds and measures approximately 17 inches, she’s keeping her eyes open while awake, and her bones are hardening. She’s got fingernails, toenails,and real hair a this point!
- Days until Lucia’s + big-sister-to-be Sirena’s celebration (baby shower): 9!